Do wisdom teeth really need to be removed? A lot of people may not even realize that they're there, especially if they're still under the surface of your gums, when a dentist will suggest that they need to be removed. What's the big deal about wisdom teeth?
Unerupted molars can cause future problems.
One of the most obvious problems that can be caused by an unerupted molar, especially if it never breaks through the surface in your later teenage years or early twenties, is that it can start to hurt at an unexpected time. However, by the time the pain kicks in, your teeth will have endured unnecessary pressure for a number of years. This can actually force them into misalignment, changing your bite and weakening surrounding teeth over time. It can also trigger infections in the gums, which can spread to nearby teeth and infect those as well.
The early removal of a wisdom tooth that won't erupt (or can't erupt, if it happens to be under the gum in a sideways or slanted position) can save you from a lot of more complicated corrective procedures down the road that might be necessary if you leave that unerupted tooth (or teeth) in place.
Early removal is healthier and easier for patients.
Studies have shown that when a wisdom tooth or teeth are affecting the second molars negatively because they are encroaching on their space or damaging the ligament surrounding the second molars, removing them early can help reverse the damage. However, this works better when the patient is younger and there is minimal plaque buildup.
Gum disease is also a bigger risk for patients who have deeply buried wisdom teeth. A pocket depth behind the second molars of 5mm or more seems to encourage the growth of bacteria, which ultimately can damage a patient's gums.
It's important to realize that the roots of wisdom teeth actually continue to develop as you age, which means that the risk of bacterial infections increases with time. In addition, deeper roots mean that the surgical procedure to remove them is more complicated when done later. If the teeth are removed before the roots fully develop, it won't interfere with your ability to properly bite, eat or talk.
If your wisdom teeth aren't currently causing you any obvious symptoms or pain, you can always choose to wait and see if a problem develops. However, your dentist may be making the recommendation based on his or her experience—which is always something to consider. For more information about wisdom teeth removal and other dental issues, talk to a dentist near you.