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When making treatment plans, some dentists believe in wisdom tooth extraction as a preventative measure, some are of the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ school. When extraction is prescribed, the first question is almost always “Why?”

Wisdom teeth are vestigial organs, organs that from an evolutionary standpoint do not make it impossible for us to survive, thus remain even though they are no longer of much use. But over the course of our evolutionary history jaws have became smaller and narrower.

Thus the third molars, or wisdom teeth, have a smaller and smaller space to erupt into, and thus can more easily become impacted.

They can grow in sideways, facing the rest of the teeth, possibly crushing your arch as they grow into them. They can partially erupt at weird angles, increasing risks of infection and causing periodontal issues. In some cases the tooth severs a flap of gum, creating a nice little pocket for bacteria and potentially becoming necrotic. Some extractions are relatively straightforward, some require an oral surgeon. Only an x-ray will tell what the next best step may be.

If your third molars erupt normally, consider yourself lucky. If not, it’s worth having a conversation with your dentist to see if extraction might be a wise step for you. Worth noting – studies show that extractions done when younger hurt significantly less and carry fewer risks.

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