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Do I need my wisdom teeth taken out?

A question we get asked a lot is “Do I need my wisdom teeth removed?” and the answer depends on a number of factors. Research tells us that 75-80% of people will need their wisdom teeth taken out at some stage in their lives.

Wisdom teeth are your very last molars to come through and they start to erupt around the age of 18. Usually there isn’t enough space in your jaw for them to come through completely so they tend to come through only half-way at crooked angles. Sometimes they don’t come out at all due to the lack of space. Apparently, the lack of space is attributed to the evolutionary process of our brains getting bigger and jaws getting smaller!

There are many reasons for extracting wisdom teeth and the most common is pain or infection associated with them. When wisdom teeth come out partially at an angle (we call this “impacted”), it creates a ‘gum flap’ that sits on top of tooth where food and bacteria can get trapped underneath. This can cause an infection which can be very painful.

Usually people will experience mild infections that come and go every few months, until one time when the pain and infection will be so severe that they need to go through wisdom teeth surgery as an emergency procedure. This tends to happen when your immune system is down, like when you are stressed during exam time or run-down because you are sick. For this reason we recommend that wisdom teeth are extracted when they are partially erupted, and before severe pain and infection sets in.

Other reasons for wisdom teeth removal include damage to the neighbouring gum, cheek, bone and tooth caused by the wisdom teeth, tooth decay, overcrowding of the mouth, over-eruption of the wisdom tooth, and to maintain excellent gum health.

As you can see there are a large number of reasons why your wisdom teeth need to be extracted and it’s important to remember that the best time to remove them is between the ages of 18-25. As you get older, your jaw bone becomes brittle which makes it more difficult to remove these teeth and your body’s capacity to recover after surgery decreases. In other words, delaying wisdom teeth removal means longer recovery period and most likely more pain after surgery.

If you are concerned or unsure about your wisdom teeth, please call and book to see one of our experienced dentists who will be more than happy to answer all of your questions.