Whether you are an adolescent, parent, or grown adult, you’ve probably heard someone tell you about getting wisdom teeth removed.
And, we get it… hearing about a dental procedure is never fun or exciting.
Well…except to us. But that’s beside the point.
If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed yet, you’re probably wondering:
Do I really need my wisdom teeth removed?
Getting your wisdom teeth removed has become a sort of rite of passage – but not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed.
Let’s find out if you need this procedure and what can happen if you keep your wisdom teeth.
What are wisdom teeth?
Not to disappoint you, but…
No, wisdom teeth do not you smarter.
Wisdom teeth get their name because they usually come in when you are older – and one would hope, wiser.
You can expect these teeth around the ages of 17 to 21.
These teeth are located behind all your other teeth, in the very back of your mouth. You can expect two on the top and two on the bottom. Although, this isn’t the case for everyone, but more to come on that.
Wisdom teeth are molars and complete your set of 32 adult teeth. These molars are the toughest of them all, used to grind food, which is why they are wide…
And also cause a lot of problems.
These wisdom teeth problems are why, more often than not, they need to be removed.
Why do I need my wisdom teeth removed?
Here are the four main reasons why your dentist may say you need your wisdom teeth removed:
- They are impacted: This means your wisdom teeth cannot come in properly. Most often they lie horizontally, instead of upright, and remain below the gumline. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a lot of pain.
- They come in at the wrong angle: By not coming in straight and upright, they can push against and damage your surrounding teeth.
- Your mouth isn’t big enough: Simply put, your jaw does not have enough room for an extra set of molars. Some people theorize that this is because our jaws have changed over time from our diets.
- You can’t maintain optimal oral health: If you can’t reach your wisdom teeth with your toothbrush and floss, then you are going to be more susceptible to cavities and gum disease.
If you ignore your dentist’s advice and keep your wisdom teeth, then you will be putting your smile and health at risk.
Common wisdom teeth problems
Before you read our list of wisdom teeth problems, you should know that:
Each year, 10 million wisdom teeth are removed in the United States.
This is a very common procedure and for good reason.
If you ignore your dentist’s recommendation to have your wisdom teeth removed, then watch out for these common wisdom teeth problems:
- Ruin your smile: If your extra set of molars do not grow in properly, they can push your other teeth, causing mouth pain and bite problems. Have you had orthodontics? This could throw it all out the window and may require more orthodontic work to straighten everything out.
- Jaw damage: Cysts can form around unsuitable wisdom teeth. If left untreated, they can destroy bones, roots, and nerves. If a cyst turns into a tumor, you may require surgery.
- Sinus pain: Wisdom teeth in your upper jaw can push against your sinuses, leading to pain, pressure, headaches, and congestion.
- Cavities and gum disease: Inflamed gums can be hard to clean. As pockets between the teeth and gums form, bacteria can grow, which can cause cavities and gum disease – the number one cause of unintentional adult tooth loss.
When should I get my wisdom teeth removed?
There isn’t an exact age for wisdom tooth removal.
However, the general rule of thumb is:
The younger the better.
As you get older, your bones become harder, which can make the removal and recovery process more difficult.
If you or your teenage child have never had a wisdom tooth evaluation, then we recommend you schedule one with your dentist.
Your dentist will use x-rays to determine:
- If you have wisdom teeth – you may not even know if they are hidden
- If you need to have wisdom teeth removed
- How many wisdom teeth need to be removed
- When you should have your wisdom teeth removed
If you need wisdom teeth removed, you and your dentist will outline a treatment plan. To save time, you may be able to have multiple wisdom teeth removed in one appointment.
So, do I need my wisdom teeth removed?
This is honestly a question for your dentist.
Just because you have wisdom teeth doesn’t necessarily mean you need them removed.
You might be lucky and have your wisdom teeth will grow in perfectly straight and healthy.
Or you might be missing one or more wisdom teeth. After all, wisdom teeth are the most commonly missing teeth in adults.
Many people with wisdom teeth get theirs removed to ensure their oral health, comfort, and beautiful smile.
To answer the question, “Do I need my wisdom teeth removed?” contact your dentist today to schedule an appointment or bring it up at your next six-month cleaning.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.