Not everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed. There are people who have adequate space and good hygiene practices that allow them to keep the 4 wisdom teeth without issue. In my practice, those patients are in the minority. After 2 plus decades of monitoring the dental health of my patients, most have or would have benefited from the removal of their wisdom teeth.
Here is a simple list of reasons for removing wisdom teeth:
- Pericoronitis: A fancy named for inflamed gums associated with wisdom teeth. Sometimes when wisdom teeth start growing, it can lead to flap of gum tissues. This can trap food particles that are difficult to remove, allowing bacteria to grow in your mouth. The result is often pain, bad breath and difficulty chewing.
- Pain and Irritation: Wisdom teeth cause pain and irritation during its growing stage. If you notice any kind of discomfort due to these teeth, get it examined! A dental professional can determine the actual reason behind it and suggest you the best solution.
- Partially Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Wisdom teeth often don’t get enough space to fully emerge from the gums and become partially“impacted”. This is when the teeth are exposed to the environment in the mouth but cannot be cleaned. This almost always causes swelling, pain, bad breath, and difficulty with opening your mouth. So dentists will always suggest you remove the partially impacted wisdom teeth.
- Hygiene: Wisdom teeth can create hygiene challenges even when they are fully erupted which leads to cavity development as well as gum inflammation.Often, wisdom teeth extraction can be the best option for maintaining your overall oral health.
- Cyst Formation: Although uncommon, cysts can also develop from the formation of wisdom teeth. It is a factor in considering removing impacted wisdom teeth.
- Shifting: Although there is some debate about this, some orthodontists are concerned about shifting and alignment problems caused by the eruption pressure and crowding from wisdom teeth. Your orthodontist will usually recommend removal of wisdom teeth.
- Trouble with eating: Crowded wisdom teeth can affect your bite and potentially make chewing uncomfortable.
Ultimately a conversation with your dental provider is the best way to determine if you or your child should have their wisdom teeth removed. I hope this list has been helpful for you. See my blog “When Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?” for answering about the timing of the procedure.
Dr. DeVaney is a general practitioner with years of experience in removing wisdom teeth and other dental surgeries under IV sedation.