Normal “wisdom” says to extract your wisdom teeth by age 25, but do you really have to?

If you’re looking for a simple answer to this question, you won’t find one here. But that’s because the question of whether or not to remove wisdom teeth is one that must be tailored to the individual lying in the dentist’s chair. Let’s look at both sides of the argument, and uncover some of the reasons why you should remove your wisdom teeth – or why you shouldn’t!

Removing your Wisdom Teeth

Conventional wisdom says to remove wisdom teeth by the time the patient is 25 years old. In fact, wisdom tooth extraction has become a prevalent surgery among high school seniors who are looking to have their oral surgery complete before they face dropping off mom and dad’s insurance policy. While the common notion is to remove, what are the real reasons to automatically extract these “extra” set of molars?

  • Risk of Impaction: Wisdom teeth can encroach on the second set of molars and cause a painfully tight situation in the jawline.
  • Risk of Infection:  Wisdom teeth are often partially covered by a flap of gums that can cause a buildup of harmful food particles. This can lead to a serious infection that would not normally have occurred if the wisdom teeth were absent.
  • Greater Risk of Jaw Fractures: Those who may experience impacts to their face or jaws on occasion (police officers, cargo handlers, firefighters, etc.) may be at a far greater risk of jaw fractures due to impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Less Worry Down the Road: For those aged 40 and older wisdom tooth extraction becomes a much more serious proposition. By removing them now, you’ll eliminate the prospect of a surgery during these more difficult times.

Choosing NOT to Remove your Wisdom Teeth

Your wisdom teeth may be perfectly healthy – wisdom teeth that are infection free, are not impacted and completely erupted, and reside in completely health gum tissue may be just fine. If they’re painless and are functional, there is no medical need to immediately remove them.

Side Effects of Surgery

You will want to weigh the risks of surgery, which are generally quite low, against the benefits of tooth extraction. Possible side effects include bleeding of the gums, infection, pain and swelling, slight numbness or tingling of the mouth and lips, and side effects from the anesthetic used.

While there is still some debate as to whether or not wisdom teeth should be removed – even if they are healthy, the majority of dental professionals still see the benefit of removing them early on. The dangers of wisdom tooth surgery later on in life, combined with the minimal risks of the actual surgery, drive a compelling argument to simply remove them during the late teens or early twenties. The best advice, of course, will be to consult a dental professional who can analyze your specific wisdom teeth and make a professional recommendation.