Should Impacted Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

It can be difficult for someone who is not a dentist to decide whether or not his wisdom teeth should be removed or be allowed to remain, which is why professional advice is necessary, says Dr. Stephen Tran, DDS, an experienced dentist who runs Firewheel Smiles in Garland, Texas. Usually, however, the impacted teeth are removed as a preventative measure to stop other problems from potentially occurring.

Adults can have as many as 32 teeth, counting their wisdom teeth, which are the last teeth to come in. However, as we have evolved, our jaws have become smaller, and the general consensus is that there is only room in most adult mouths for 28 teeth, and that the last wisdom teeth can cause crowding and other issues. This is also a problem when the wisdom teeth have not yet erupted, or began to protrude through the gum line, or when they have only partially erupted.

Most of the time, I would say that impacted wisdom teeth should definitely be removed, but that decision would have to be based on your dentist’s or doctor’s recommendation. And a dentist can only make that judgment after performing a complete dental examination, one that would include taking a full series of dental x-rays.

Wisdom teeth that are impacted are ones that have not yet erupted into their proper position. They are normally removed as a preventative measure. That is because usually in adulthood, those impacted wisdom teeth can get infected, or funny things can grow around them like cysts. Instead of waiting for them to become problematic, it’s usually a good idea to just go in and get them taken out. Trying to treat the problem is a lot more difficult to deal with than just having them taken out.

Crowding Other Teeth

People also worry about whether the appearance of wisdom teeth means that the existing teeth in the mouth could become crooked as a result. Based on current studies, it’s hard to prove that wisdom teeth can affect other existing teeth. But it kind of makes sense that if your wisdom teeth are growing in sideways, they will make your other teeth more crowded. It’s not irrational to think that might explain why your teeth are crooked, so with this in mind, it probably helps to get them out to decrease the chances of your teeth getting more crowded.

In rare cases, an impacted wisdom tooth can also cause disruption or damage to other teeth, specifically the second molar, which is right next to the wisdom teeth. It can cause resorption of the second molar’s root, and in these rare cases both the wisdom tooth and the second molar would have to be taken out.

Finally, the teeth that can be the most problematic are those which have only partially erupted, meaning that they are protruding only part way through the gums. In this case, it would be up to your dentist to decide whether they could be any foreseeable problems in future should these partially erupted teeth be allowed to remain.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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