Why is wisdom teeth removal necessary?


Has your dentist told you that you need to get one of your wisdom teeth removed? If yes, then you might be wondering when, and why do wisdom teeth need to be taken out. This article explains everything you need to know about the removal of wisdom teeth. 

The Wisdom Teeth

The third molars or the wisdom teeth are the last ones among all the permanent teeth to erupt into the oral cavity. Usually, they come between the ages of 17 and 25 years, when people have matured, and hence their name. 

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), wisdom teeth help chew if they erupt in optimal occlusion and alignment with the other teeth in the jaw. However, this is not always the case, and wisdom often fails to eruptnormally. This can lead to various complication, some of which can cause severe damage.  Therefore, wisdom teeth should be extracted if they are, or they can cause trouble in the future. 

Here are a few reasons why wisdom teeth need to be extracted.  

  1. When an Impacted Wisdom Tooth Becomes Inflamed 

A wisdom tooth is said to have become impacted when it is unable to erupt completely in the jaw. In this case, it remains covered with a thick covering of oral soft tissue, which creates difficulty in proper cleansing of the area. As a result, the soft tissue surrounding the impacted wisdom tooth becomes frequently inflamed and causes significant pain and discomfort. This condition is medically known as pericoronitis. If the oral soft tissues become inflamed very often, then the impacted wisdom tooth needs to be extracted. Research shows that about 25-30% of impacted wisdom teeth are extracted because of frequent and severe inflammation[1]

  • To Prevent Teeth Cavities 

Since the wisdom teeth are present at the back of the oral cavity, it is sometimes difficult to properly clean the tooth during brushing and flossing. This results in the tooth become vulnerable to the development of teeth cavities and inflammation of gums. Therefore, to prevent the other teeth from getting cavities, The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends removing the damaged wisdom tooth. 

  • For Orthodontic Reasons  

In some cases, there is not sufficient space in the jaws to accommodate all the teeth in optimal occlusion, resulting in crowding and misalignment. Therefore, to create room for re-aligning and moving the teeth back into optimal occlusion, dentists often remove wisdom teeth from one or both sides of the jaw. Once the wisdom teeth have been removed, braces are attached to the remaining teeth, and they are forced back into normal position. 

  • To Prevent Sinus Problems 

When the wisdom teeth in the upper jaw do not erupt in optimal occlusion, they can penetrate the maxillary sinuses and may lead to sinusitis, a condition characterized by pain, the sensation of pressure, fever and chills. If this is suspected, the offending wisdom tooth is removed. 

  • Infections 

If an infection develops in a wisdom tooth, there are very high chances that the infection can also travel and damage other teeth in the jaw. Similarly, if a cyst forms around a wisdom tooth, it can cause degradation of the surrounding bone, making it weaker and more vulnerable to spontaneous fracture. Therefore, a wisdom tooth with an infection or a cyst should be removed to prevent other teeth. 

  • Tumors 

Although not very common, a wisdom tooth may also need to be removed if it is lying in a region that has been affected by a tumor. This is done to minimize the chances of tumor recurrence. 

It must be remembered here that not all wisdom teeth need to be extracted. The American Dental Association (ADA)[2] states that wisdom teeth which do not cause any harm should be carefully monitored. This is because the potential for the development of future problems with wisdom teeth in the future is very high. You can also prevent complications associated with wisdom teeth by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. Most importantly, you should visit your dentist regularly so that any problems with your wisdom teeth can be diagnosed and treated promptlybefore they cause permanent damage. 

[1] https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(14)60117-3/pdf

[2] https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/wisdom-teeth

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