Does Everyone Need Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Your wisdom teeth are actually your third set of molars -- the largest, toughest teeth, designed to grind food. Most people get their wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 21, but many people have problems with their wisdom teeth.

Experts aren’t sure why this set of molars is problematic for so many people. The leading theory is that evolutionary changes mean humans no longer need wisdom teeth, because as the human diet and jaw shape changed over the centuries, the need for wisdom teeth diminished.

There are a few people who never have issues with their wisdom teeth -- they come in correctly, are healthy, can be properly cleaned, and don’t cause problems for the surrounding or opposing teeth. Even if you’re one of those lucky people, when you come into Lansing Oral Surgery for a checkup, your dentist will monitor the health of your wisdom teeth just to make sure they don’t become a problem.

Unfortunately, there are lots of reasons to remove wisdom teeth. Your age, the shape of your mouth, and the position of your wisdom teeth are all factors your dentist considers when making a recommendation about whether or not they need to be removed.

Common problems with wisdom teeth

There are several common issues people experience, including:

When your wisdom teeth can’t erupt from your gums because there isn’t enough room, they’re impacted. Impaction is the most common reason wisdom teeth are removed, and it can cause a host of other problems. When they can’t erupt, your wisdom teeth may twist or become displaced.

Impaction can cause pain, swelling, and bleeding, as well as infection. Often, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to tooth decay because bacteria can thrive, especially if your wisdom teeth partially erupt.

When the sac that surrounds the root of your wisdom tooth fills with fluid and becomes inflamed cyst forms. The cyst can damage the roots of other teeth, as well as your jawbone.

Hidden problems

Sometimes you may not be aware of a problem with your wisdom teeth, especially if they don’t erupt. For example, if your wisdom teeth are moving under your gums, they could cause issues with the alignment of your other teeth, but because the process happens very slowly over months or years, you don’t know it’s happening. You also may not have any symptoms if a cyst is forming near the root of your wisdom tooth.

That’s why routine dental care is critical so that issues with your wisdom teeth are caught before they cause you discomfort. And in some cases, your dentist may recommend removing your wisdom teeth early, well before problems develop.

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