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When is it necessary to have wisdom teeth removed?

Wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to the mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned. Often, however, problems develop that require their removal. When the jaw isn't large enough to accommodate wisdom teeth, they can become impacted (unable to come in or misaligned). Wisdom teeth may grow sideways, emerge only part way from the gum or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.

Extraction of wisdom teeth is generally recommended when:
  • Wisdom teeth only partially erupt. This leaves an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection. Pain, swelling, jaw stiffness and general illness can result.
  • There is a chance that poorly aligned wisdom teeth will damage adjacent teeth.
  • A cyst (fluid-filled sac) forms, destroying surrounding structures such as bone or tooth roots.
  • Patients should ask the dentist about the health and positioning of their wisdom teeth. The dentist may make a recommendation for removal or send the patient to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.
Many people don’t actually have room for their wisdom teeth in their jaw. As a result, wisdom teeth often become impacted. Several complications can arise if this happens. For starters, your wisdom teeth could push your other teeth out of alignment or cause damage to nearby teeth as they try to push through your gums. If they only partially emerge, you could become more susceptible to infection, and in some cases, a cyst will develop. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can be painful as well as cause damage to the roots of nearby teeth. All of these circumstances warrant the removal of your wisdom teeth, but oftentimes, your dentist will be able to prevent these complications by removing your wisdom teeth before they can cause any problems.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.