When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

By: Dr. Andrew Koenigsberg

Articles have emerged discouraging removal of wisdom teeth, especially when they are not creating pain or other problems. Wisdom teeth, or third molars, most often erupt between the ages of 17-26 and sometimes cause symptoms such as root damage and swelling and eventually need to be removed.Some dental experts believe in extracting them early on, before they become symptomatic. Others believe the teeth could stay asymptomatic and disease free through an adult’s entire lifetime.

Here is my opinion  on whether or not wisdom teeth should be removed before they cause problems.

When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed

There are almost no studies on the benefits of removing wisdom teeth as most studies focus on complications after extraction. Given the lack of research, we are left with our clinical experience and judgement. My experience in over 35 years and examining over 25,000 patients is that almost everyone would benefit from having their wisdom teeth removed while they are teenagers. This is because a significant percentage of people who keep their wisdom teeth will develop problems eventually and it is much easier to have the extractions done before the teeth fully develop.

Generally, the older a patient is, the more complications and pain there is with extractions. As we live longer, there is more time for problems to develop and no one wants to deal with wisdom teeth when they’re in their 90s!

Why I Hate Wisdom Teeth

A majority of patients that I have seen who kept their wisdom teeth, eventually had gum disease, decay or both caused by the wisdom teeth. This is not surprising since decay and gum disease are caused by bacteria and there are very few situations where the wisdom teeth can be kept clean. Nowadays, as people routinely live into their 90’s it’s an even bigger issue as people have a harder time keeping the area clean as they get older and the surgery becomes more traumatic.

Having wisdom teeth removed in the teens is the easiest time to do the surgery as the teeth are not fully formed and not tightly attached to the bone.

 

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