Do I Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth, the last adult teeth to grow in the rear of the mouth, are notoriously problematic. Despite their relatively benign name, many people dread their coming for this reason. One of the most commonly asked questions by patients is whether they will need their wisdom teeth removed, even if they aren’t having any symptoms!

Dr. Jocelyn Tan-Chu of Midtown New York provides high-quality dental care and patient education. Learn about wisdom teeth and whether you might need them removed.

Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth usually grow in between the ages of 17-25, which is why they’re known as “wisdom” teeth. Although how much wisdom we really have at that age is debatable, this is the reason for the name.

These teeth are clinically known as “third molars” because they are very similar in shape and purpose to the first two sets of molars that develop in childhood and adolescence. You may recall a little bit of discomfort in middle school when your second set of molars was growing in. Your third molars come in very much the same, but this time there’s even less room for them to move around.

Why Are They Removed?

Dentists look for specific indicators that signal a possible need for removal:

  • Pericoronitis: When they begin erupting (coming out) of the gums, a flap of gum tissue can develop, which may trap leftover food particles and oral bacteria. This infection, called pericoronitis, irritates the surrounding gums, making the spot difficult to clean and can even occur in wisdom teeth that have not erupted yet.
  • They become impacted: Many people see “impacted” and automatically think “infected,” but this is not always true. When the wisdom teeth are blocked by teeth and are unable to erupt, they are termed impacted. While some people may experience pain or discomfort when this happens, many others don’t even know they have are impacted until a dentist finds it on an X-ray.
  • The dentist suspects a risk of future problems: If your dentist decides there is a risk of future issues by leaving them in, they may suggest extraction. The extraction of wisdom teeth is easier on younger patients, so even if you haven’t had any problems with yours yet, your dentist may recommend their removal to prevent a more difficult procedure in the future.

Conservative Treatment

It’s important to know that not everyone will need their wisdom teeth extracted. Sometimes they come in without any problems, or they can be managed without surgery. There are several factors that you and your dentist need to consider, so it’s important to have regular dental check-ups, especially as a teen and young adult.

Patients in the borough of Manhattan and midtown New York who want to learn more about wisdom teeth removal can schedule an appointment with Dr. Tan-Chu online or call us at 212.235.1769.