Is it Necessary to Extract Wisdom Teeth?

smiling patient in a dental clinic

Wisdom teeth are your third and final set of molars to erupt, and they usually erupt in your late teens or early twenties. Most people think of having their wisdom teeth removed as a rite of passage. While the name “wisdom teeth” might imply that they are an important set of teeth, most of the time, they do not help the function of your mouth at all. In fact, they can even cause significant problems to your oral health. Whether or not your wisdom teeth need to be extracted will depend on your unique dental health condition. However, it is important to remember that even if your wisdom teeth are not causing you pain, you should still schedule an appointment as soon as you feel them erupting, in order to determine if they will cause dental health complications or not.

When Wisdom Teeth Don’t Need to be Removed

If your wisdom teeth fall under the following categories, then they most likely will not need to be extracted:

● If your wisdom teeth are healthy

● If your wisdom teeth have fully erupted

● If they are positioned correctly, so biting down does not affect the other arch of teeth

● If they can remain cleaned during your regular hygiene practices

When it comes to recommending wisdom teeth extractions, some dentists take more conservative approaches, while others believe in taking preventive actions. For instance, some dentists will recommend taking out a healthy molar to prevent problems down the road.

The older you get, the harder the bones in your mouth become, making them more difficult to extract. Thus, we might recommend removing the wisdom teeth, before they become heavily rooted in the jawbone. Waiting too long to have wisdom teeth removed could cause surgical complications, like fractured teeth, minor loss of movement in the jaw, or severe bleeding.

When Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed

Before deciding if your wisdom teeth need to be removed, we will take X-rays to assess how the wisdom teeth will grow in. We might recommend wisdom tooth extractions for the following reasons:

Other teeth will be damaged. Sometimes when the arch doesn’t have enough room for the teeth to grow in, wisdom teeth can push against your other teeth, causing mouth pain and bite issues.

Jaw damage. With some wisdom teeth complications, cysts can develop around the new teeth, causing nerve damage and hollowing out your jaw.

Sinus damage. Complications with your wisdom teeth can cause sinus issues with pain, pressure, or congestion around your sinuses.

Gum inflammation. With wisdom teeth that are difficult to keep clean, tissue around the teeth can become swollen, making them harder to clean.

Cavities in the wisdom teeth. Chronic gum disease around wisdom teeth often creates periodontal pockets, which can cause bacteria to develop in these pockets, forming cavities.

Teeth misalignment. When wisdom teeth erupt in an overcrowded mouth, the teeth can become impacted, causing your other teeth to shift in your mouth and throw off bite alignment.

In order to determine if your wisdom teeth need to be extracted, we will look at the size and shape of your mouth, position of your teeth, and direction of your wisdom teeth. In some cases, you might be able to wait until your teeth are fully erupted, before deciding if you want to have them extracted. However, if you are noticing pain, swelling, or a bad odor in the back of your mouth, we will recommend extraction as soon as possible.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction Process

Before your wisdom tooth extraction, you will need to meet with our dentist for a consultation. During this appointment, we will take a history of your health problems, take a history of any drugs you take, answer any of your questions about the surgery, and discuss types of anesthesia. During most wisdom teeth extraction surgeries, you can choose to have local anesthesia, in which the area will be completely numbed, or you can opt for a heavier sedation to remain totally asleep during the surgery.

During Your Wisdom Teeth Surgery

Before performing surgery, you will receive anesthesia, so you feel comfortable and don’t feel pain during the surgical process. Once the area is completely numbed, we will cut your gums or bone to gain access to remove the teeth. After removing the teeth, we will stitch the wound, so it can heal. In some cases, we might also use gauze pads to soak up the blood.

After surgery, you might need someone to drive you home, depending on the type of anesthesia used. For local anesthetic patients, you might be able to drive home afterwards, if you are alert enough. For patients having their teeth removed with general anesthesia or sedation options, you will need to arrange someone to drive you home after the surgery. For a few days after surgery, you can expect to have minor swelling and discomfort. In your initial consultation, we will offer suggestions on how to recover more quickly.

What Happens If You Don’t Have Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The primary reason we suggest wisdom teeth extraction is to prevent them from harming other teeth. When wisdom teeth erupt perpendicularly to the other second molars, it can create a space where food can get trapped, causing both teeth to become decayed, and it can sometimes result in a nasty infection. Skipping wisdom teeth surgery likely lead to dental health difficulties down the line.

If your wisdom teeth remain under the gumline without erupting, the tissue around the wisdom teeth can become cancerous. In this case, we recommend having your wisdom teeth taken out early. In some instances, patients are born entirely without wisdom teeth, in which case, they don’t need to worry about having them extracted at all!

Are your wisdom teeth beginning to erupt, or has a dentist suggested you have yours removed? Call our office today to schedule a consultation.