While the only true way to tell if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed is by a careful examination from a dental professional, here are some general guidelines and reference information.
During the evolution of humans, evidence has shown that jaw size has become smaller, while tooth size and number has remained constant. Third molars (or wisdom teeth) were great for chewing coarse, rough foods such as leaves, roots, and nuts, the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. However, as humans moved to an agricultural based diet not requiring as much chewing surface, the jaw size has decreased, often without sufficient room for third molars. This causes them to “erupt” (emerge) at improper angles, or even horizontally, creating all sorts of problems with the gums, surrounding teeth and jawbone.
Generally speaking, wisdom teeth should be removed if they:
- Only partially erupt through the gums. This makes them difficult to clean properly and creates an increased risk of bacteria, gum disease and infection.
- Push against other teeth. If emerging wisdom teeth don’t have enough room, they can damage nearby teeth and/or jawbone.
- Fail to erupt. If wisdom teeth remain hidden below the gums, they can become impacted inside of the jaw. This can result in damage to surrounding teeth, including their roots, as well as infection.
- Prove to be difficult to maintain good hygiene by flossing and brushing. Often these difficult to clean teeth develop cavities and gum disease which can be harmful to the wisdom teeth and neighboring teeth.
Wisdom teeth might NOT need to be removed if they are:
- Fully erupted with enough room in the mouth.
- Able to be cleaned (brushed and flossed) completely at home.Positioned properly relative to their adjacent teeth.
Please remember that these are only general guidelines. The only way to be sure your wisdom need to be removed or not is to have them examined by a qualified dentist or oral surgeon. If you have questions or concerns about your wisdom teeth, contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Martin or Dr. Appelblatt.