Wisdom teeth removal is a common practice, and most dental professionals recommend that their patients have them taken out. After all, wisdom teeth are not necessary and can cause a number of problems, either as they first grow in or further down the line. Sometimes removing them right away is necessary, as in the case of impacted teeth or severe crowding. Other times they are taken out as a preventative measure to stop problems from developing in the future.
But is it always necessary?
Although it is usually recommended, there are cases when it is not necessary. We’ll discuss those instances in this post, but first let’s consider the top reasons people have wisdom teeth removed:
They Cause Crowding or Shifting – Wisdom teeth can cause crowding in your mouth, forcing your other teeth to shift. If you’ve had braces or previous orthodontic/dental work, this movement can undo the beautiful (and often expensive!) results.
Hard to Clean – Because they’re positioned so far in the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth are incredibly difficult hard to keep clean, even with electronic toothbrushes and regular flossing. This can lead to bacteria growth, cavities and gum disease over time.
Impacted Teeth – When wisdom teeth are blocked and can’t come in properly they remain underneath the gums, often growing sideways or at an angle. Or they may be partially exposed, again leaving the area susceptible to cavities and other infections.
Other Complications – Sometimes other complications occur, such as fluid-filled growths (cysts) that damage the teeth, bone and nerves. Some people experience jaw or even sinus issues related to wisdom teeth. Others report uncomfortable, constant pain in the area.
However, despite the fact that there are many compelling reasons to have wisdom teeth removed, doing so is not always a given. There are times when it is not necessary, and some lucky people can keep wisdom teeth their entire life with no problems.
If your wisdom teeth:
- Are healthy and clean
- Positioned correctly (aligned with your other teeth)
- Not impacted
- Don’t cause crowding in your mouth
- Don’t cause pain
You may be one of the few that doesn’t need to have them removed.
However, even if you meet the above criteria and decide to keep you wisdom teeth, remember that you are making a lifelong commitment. It is critical that you clean your teeth thoroughly (brushing, flossing) and maintaining regular dental checkups for cleanings, x-rays and consultations.
Many people subscribe to the “better safe than sorry” philosophy when it comes to wisdom teeth removal. There are a lot of things that can go wrong in the future, and since it’s impossible to predict many choose to have them removed as a preventative measure. It’s also important to keep in mind that they are much easier to remove when a patient is younger. As we age, the bones in our mouth actually get harder, making the teeth tougher to remove and leading to a longer recovery time.
As with any procedure, it’s important discuss wisdom teeth removal with your dental professional(s). They can explain the pros and cons and discuss your specific case. Together, you can decide what is best for you now and in the future. And of course, the ultimate decision about your personal health is yours.