The removal of wisdom teeth — the four outermost molars on the top and bottom of the jaw — is so common nowadays that many people assume it’s just something everyone has done. It’s almost considered a rite of passage into adulthood. But is it actually necessary? Do you really have to get your wisdom teeth removed, or is this just an unnecessary precaution? After all, aren’t these teeth a natural part of your growth?
In a perfect world, one in which evolution never made mistakes, no one would need their wisdom teeth removed. And in fact, there are times when it simply isn’t necessary. If the wisdom teeth are healthy and show up in their proper place, there may be no need to have them removed. However, the reality of life is that many people — if not most — will end up having one or more long-term complications if these molars are allowed to emerge. Wisdom teeth frequently push in toward the other teeth, causing them to shift and crowd out of place. If they get trapped under the gum, they can abscess and cause serious infections. If you’re not already having problems or experiencing pain, your dentist can usually foresee these complications by looking at X-rays of your mouth. In such cases, he/she may recommend having your wisdom teeth removed as a precaution, even if you’re not experiencing pain at the moment.
When Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Unnecessary?
You may have no need to have your wisdom teeth removed if:
- They have fully emerged (or are likely to do so);
- They are correctly positioned in the mouth without crowding other teeth;
- They can be reached easily for regular cleaning and hygiene; and
- Otherwise appear healthy without causing other problems.
When Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Recommended?
Your dentist may recommend wisdom tooth removal in the following situations:
- If the teeth appear trapped beneath the gumline and cannot emerge;
- If the teeth are improperly positioned, either above or below the gum line (for example, if they are set to press toward the other teeth);
- If the teeth cannot fully emerge, making them more difficult to clean and keep healthy;
- If there is a history of oral complications in your family from wisdom teeth; and/or
- If you are already experiencing pain or symptoms.
Ultimately, the best way to know whether wisdom tooth removal is in your best interests is to consult with an experienced dentist. For an evaluation and to learn about your options, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.