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Do Wisdom Teeth Have to be Removed?

September 17, 2017

Animation of impacted wisdom toothFor many people, the answer is yes wisdom teeth do need to be removed. However, there are a lucky few who get to retain their third molars. The only way to know for sure whether or not your wisdom teeth will need to be extracted is to schedule a consultation with a trusted dentist. The dental practitioner will capture x-rays and visually examine your bite to determine whether or not the wisdom teeth will be able to erupt within the current bite alignment without damaging surrounding teeth. If the dentist determines you are likely to experience impaction or other complications, wisdom tooth extraction will be recommended to ensure you maintain the optimal level of oral health.

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Third molars are the last set of teeth to erupt into the smile line. They earned the nickname “wisdom teeth” because they emerge in the late teens and early twenties when people are said to have reached the age of wisdom. Our ancient ancestors consumed a diet of coarse foods and had little to no dental care, so this last set of teeth often came just in time as previous teeth were damaged or lost at a young age. Today’s refined foods and improved oral hygiene mean the vast majority of people have not lost any teeth by the time their wisdom teeth erupt, and many of these patients’ jaws are not large enough to accommodate this final set of teeth.

Why are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Like any other tooth, wisdom teeth are not removed unless they pose a threat to your overall oral health. The three main reasons a dentist will recommend tooth extraction are:

  • Impaction – one or more wisdom teeth is unable to emerge from the gum line or develops in such away that it interferes with the growth of surrounding teeth
  • Crowding – the jaw line simply does not have space to accommodate an additional set of molars without disrupting the function of the bite
  • Dental shifting – as wisdom teeth erupt, they often push other surrounding teeth out of alignment causing issues and undoing the results of orthodontic treatments

How are Teeth Extracted?

There are two many tooth extraction methods – pulling and surgical removal. Pulling a tooth is the ideal situation. It means the tooth has completely erupted from the gum line but it has not fully implanted into the jawbone. Surgical removal requires the dentist to make incisions in the soft tissue, cut away parts of the alveolar and/or jawbone, and remove the tooth. In some surgical extraction cases, the tooth itself needs to be broken into two or more smaller pieces before it can be removed.

Meet the Dentists of Newtown Team

The Dentists of Newtown focus dental treatment on prevention and conservative care. That means removing teeth is never something we recommend lightly, including third molars. However, we know the importance of removing this additional set of molars for many patients in order to avoid the need for advanced orthodontic or surgical care in the future. If you would like to learn more or schedule a wisdom tooth consultation, please call our knowledgeable Newtown dentistry team to get started today.

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