Should wisdom teeth be removed?

Wisdom teeth that don’t fully erupt or that grow in sideways can lead to tooth decay, infection or pain. Dr. Maria Lopez Howell explains how talking to your dentist can help you decide whether your wisdom teeth should be removed.

Not necessarily. If they are not impacted and don't cause you any pain, and you are able to eat properly with them and clean them then there's no need to get them removed. If however, they are causing adjacent teeth to decay because you are unable to clean them, or are causing you pain or problems with function, see your dentist so he/she can help you decide your best course of treatment. 
Not necessarily should wisdom teeth be removed. Typically, wisdom teeth erupt between ages of 18-22, sometimes up to 24. After age 24, the position of the wisdom tooth may not move or "erupt" much more. Therefore, it is imperative to evaluate late teens to early 20s (may include all or some of the following:) what position they are in, if they can be kept clean to reduce chance of decay (even to back part of the neighboring tooth), does jaw have enough room for them, presence of eruption cysts, or other pathology, are they providing any function?, etc. In my opinion, more often than not, it is a good idea to have them removed especially during the late teens or early 20s. That being said, if you are much older, and still have them without any signs or symptoms, then you do not necessarily have to have them removed. Be advised to have the dentist explain and show you at minimum the wisdom teeth from a panoramic xray view.
There is no steadfast rule on whether to have your wisdom teeth removed. If they are causing you pain, have become impacted or infected, or are posing a problem to surrounding teeth, you may consider having them extracted. If not, you can keep them safely in your mouth.
Jonathan B. Levine, DMD
It's practically a rite of passage to get wisdom teeth removed, and that usually happens somewhere between the late teens and the early twenties. But people get them removed at all ages. Ultimately, if they don't cause you discomfort, your wisdom teeth can remain. If and when they do bother you, though, they should be taken out.
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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.