While the majority of people will have their wisdom teeth removed, not everyone will need to. These third molars make an appearance in our early adult years, typically around the age of 17, but for some, not until the early 20s.
Why do some people need their wisdom teeth removed but others don’t? Essentially, people who don’t have enough room in their jaw to accommodate all four wisdom teeth will need to have these teeth removed. For people who have larger jaws to accommodate all their teeth, they may not need to have them extracted.
Here’s what else you need to know about who needs to have their wisdom teeth extracted.
When Removal Is Necessary: Impacted Wisdom Teeth
People whose wisdom teeth never fully erupt—also called impacted wisdom teeth—will need to have these molars removed.
Impacted wisdom teeth may partially come in through the gums, or they may come in at an angle that will disrupt the neighboring teeth. These impacted molars can result in infections and an increased risk for tooth decay, as they’re difficult to clean due to their status of being trapped in the gum tissue .
Wisdom teeth that are impacted will push against nearby teeth and can cause crowding, which could affect any orthodontic work you’ve previously had done, or make it harder to properly clean your teeth.
When Wisdom Teeth Can Stay: Plenty of Room in the Jaw
Some people will have their wisdom teeth come in completely without any issues. In cases such as these—provided there are no adverse symptoms—wisdom teeth may be fine to leave alone .
However, some patients who have plenty of room in their jaw for their wisdom teeth to erupt still experience symptoms that could necessitate removal. For example, wisdom teeth are located far back in the mouth and be difficult to clean, increasing the chances that these teeth would experience tooth decay.
Have Questions? Schedule an Exam
The only way to know if your wisdom teeth are impacted or require removal is with a professional exam and x-rays from your dentist . X-rays can reveal if these third molars are present and whether they’re coming in crooked. Some patients don’t even have wisdom teeth, or some people may only have two instead of four!
Wisdom tooth extraction is a very common procedure that can be done by an experienced dentist or an oral surgeon. Recovery time typically only takes a few days, and the discomfort is minimal. Whether or not your wisdom teeth have already come in, your dentist can let you know if they’re healthy or if they could require an extraction in the future!