Does Everyone Need to Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth removal almost seems like a rite of passage, right up there with final exams and getting your leaner’s permit. But what are wisdom teeth and why do so many people have them removed?
Wisdom teeth are the 4 final molars to erupt from the gums and are so called because they typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 20. They are remnants from distant ancestors and are believed to have been used to help grind plants, nuts, and other vegetation that made up a large part of their diet. As humans evolved, the shape of our jaws changed, but despite that fact that our jaw lines are now smaller, we continue to grow wisdom teeth.
Now that we have covered what wisdom teeth are, why do so many people have them removed? Wisdom teeth today are like the appendix of your mouth; we all have them, but no longer need them. However, unlike your appendix, which can stay where it is unless it’s causing harm, most people will require wisdom teeth removal simply because there is no room for them to grow which can lead to a variety of serious tooth and gum issues.
As our jaws are now smaller than those of our ancestors, wisdom teeth often do not have room grow in correctly which can lead to a number of issues, including overcrowding of the surrounding teeth, partial eruption, were only a portion of the tooth emerges, or impacted teeth, were the entire tooth remains hidden under the gums, often on a horizontal angle. Partially erupted and impacted teeth can lead to gum disease and dangerous and painful oral infections, as the teeth are very difficult to clean. These types of oral infections, if left unchecked, can lead to oral cysts, which will eventually begin to affect the roots and jawbone of the surrounding healthy teeth. For these reasons, most dentists suggest wisdom teeth removal before it becomes a problem, and recommend patients have the teeth removed before the age of 20.
There are some cases where you might not need to have your wisdom teeth removed. If you are an adult who never had wisdom teeth removal and the teeth are fully erupted, healthy, and correctly positioned you may never need to have them removed. However, if you experience any type of pain in the area of your wisdom teeth, repeated infections, cysts, or damage to nearby teeth, your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal.