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Do Wisdom Teeth Have to Be Removed?

Although their name implies otherwise, wisdom teeth don’t do anything to make you smarter. In many people, they cause problems like crowding, swelling, jaw misalignment, sinus problems, cavities, and cysts. Because wisdom teeth often wreak havoc on your oral health, they’re commonly removed.

But do they have to be? Here at Advanced Care Dentistry, Thomas O. Marxen, DDS, MSD, and the team of providers can answer this and other questions about your wisdom teeth. We often recommend having them removed in your young adult years to prevent dental problems, but this is not the recommendation for everyone. 

Read on to learn why you might have your wisdom teeth removed and when you might skip this procedure.

Understanding wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. In the past, our ancestors used these extra teeth to produce more chewing power for their more rugged, natural diets. As our diets have evolved, wisdom teeth aren’t required for our survival.

Human jaws have become smaller with time, so wisdom teeth don’t always fit seamlessly into our jaws. When wisdom teeth don’t fit, they can become impacted and not erupt above the gum line, which can cause infection and abscesses. When they erupt, they often come in at a funny angle or compromise surrounding teeth in the area. Because wisdom teeth are set so far at the back of the mouth, they’re harder to keep clean and may lead to decay. 

Wisdom teeth do serve a purpose

Because wisdom teeth can cause so many oral health problems and human diets have changed, the argument exists that these molars serve no purpose.

While wisdom teeth may not be essential for survival today, they can still contribute to chewing function and dental alignment for some people. Depending on your mouth’s structure, preserving healthy wisdom teeth can help maintain proper spacing and alignment of adjacent teeth.

To remove or not remove your wisdom teeth

It is widely believed that wisdom teeth must be removed in all teens or young adults. While it’s true that many people experience issues with their wisdom teeth, such as impaction, infection, or crowding, not everyone requires extraction. 

In some cases, wisdom teeth can erupt fully and function without causing any problems. If you do choose to keep your wisdom teeth, we’ll monitor them regularly to detect any potential issues early on.

Wisdom teeth removal is a streamlined experience

Of course, everyone’s experience with wisdom teeth removal is different, but the removal is not an inevitably painful or traumatic experience. Oral surgery may seem daunting, but advancements in dental technology and anesthesia techniques have made the process far more comfortable and manageable than in the past. 

Many patients report minimal discomfort during and after wisdom teeth removal, with the majority of pain easily managed with over-the-counter pain medications.

So what should you do? Have your wisdom teeth removed or not?

The question of whether wisdom teeth need to be removed does not have a one-size-fits-all answer. While many people may benefit from extraction to prevent potential complications, others may be able to retain their wisdom teeth without issue. We here at Advanced Care Dentistry provide individualized care and recommendations so you can make the right decision for your oral health. 

If you have questions or concerns about your wisdom teeth, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced providers. Call the office or use this website to book an appointment.

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