Wisdom Teeth: Do I Need Them?

Do I have to have my wisdom teeth taken out?

It’s a question we get almost every day. The roots of wisdom teeth are usually not fully developed until age 21 or later, so it is common to have the teeth removed as a teenager or young adult while the roots are still forming. Once fully formed, wisdom teeth roots continue to grow and are more likely to become tangled with sensory nerves in the lower jaw and/or sinuses. Regular dental visits are important during your teens and early 20s. If you visit your dentist regularly, they can use x-rays to follow the progress of your wisdom teeth and any problems will be seen early.

What kind of problems could there be?

Impaction. One of the most common justifications for wisdom tooth removal is impaction. Impaction is when the teeth do not have enough room to erupt fully and are therefore impacted in the gums and/or bone.

Infection. When our wisdom teeth can’t come in all the way, part of the tooth may be covered by a flap of gum. Bits of food and bacteria can get trapped under the flap. This can cause swelling and a low-grade infection called pericoronitis. This usually happens with lower wisdom teeth.

Altered Bite. This is due to wisdom teeth pushing adjacent teeth out of alignment. When wisdom teeth are not coming in straight, they will put pressure on the teeth directly in front of them.

Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. But if there’s a chance your wisdom teeth will cause problems, it’s easier to take them out when you’re young. As always, schedule an appointment and talk with us about any dental concerns you have, including whether removing your wisdom teeth makes sense for you.

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