Wisdom Teeth: Keep or Remove

Wisdom teeth are some of the most contentious teeth we have. Read one set of articles and you will get 10 reasons for keeping your wisdom teeth.  Read another set of articles and you will have will have every reason to remove them. The goal for this week’s post is to give you as much information as possible, so together, we can make the best decision for your oral health.

According to the Canadian Dental Association, most people get between one and four wisdom teeth.  What drives the number of wisdom teeth? Nobody knows but the best assumption is genetics.  You can’t control the number of wisdom teeth that grow but most people have the choice to keep them or have them removed. As a rule of thumb:  the more wisdom teeth, the more potential for crowding which causes pain and discomfort. For some people, wisdom teeth are a non-issue.  For others, especially those with smaller jaws, the presence of wisdom teeth can be painful.

As dentists, scientists, and practitioners we are always looking for the reason “why?” good dental care revolves around the principal that each patient brings a unique circumstance to the office. While it’s true that most people in America have their wisdom teeth removed, that doesn’t mean that everyone should. A lot is at play including genetics, age, and level of health. Beyond that there is the fundamental question: where do wisdom teeth lie on a spectrum from benefit-to-problem? As a general rule, if a tooth is causing pain, discomfort, or unnecessary stress, extraction is the best option. If it’s not causing any problems, then it can stay. 

As was stated earlier, there are different schools of thought on keeping or extracting this set of molars.  While medicine is a science it is also a practice. This means there are few hard-and-fast rules. As the patient, your goal is to understand what is most probable and with your dentist, make the best decision with the information at-hand. Today, your wisdom teeth may not be an issue. But if you are young and your jaw has not stopped developing, it is quite possible that in the future your wisdom teeth may be problematic. Depending on your lifestyle, it might be best to remove wisdom teeth sooner rather than later and vise-versa.

Our practice is based upon open, honest, and experience-based conversations. Communicate with your dentist about what you’re feeling and combine that with what the x-rays show, your genetics, and the dentist’s experience.  If you follow that process you have a very good chance at making the right decision for your oral health and that is the only thing that matters.

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