Do I Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

January 22, 2015

For decades, wisdom teeth removal has been common practice and a sort of right of passage for young adults and youth. But do you really need to get your wisdom teeth extracted?

Wisdom teeth are your third molars at the very back of your mouth and they typically appear and begin “growing in” in a person’s late teens or early twenties (when we’re supposed to be getting wiser!). These teeth are sort of leftover from the time of our ancient ancestors who had larger jaws and needed the extra teeth to help grind down raw plant matter for easier digestion. Of course, these days we don’t really NEED our wisdom teeth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to remove them either.


There are many factors that will determine whether or not wisdom teeth should be extracted, including:

  • Race and genetics
    Wisdom tooth development is very rare in Tasmanian Aborigines, while it is nearly 100% in Mexican indigenous populations. The difference is believed to be caused by the PAX9 gene.
  • Tooth spacing
    Most people do not have the space necessary to support additional teeth, but if teeth are tightly spaced together already, it will be important to remove the wisdom teeth early.
  • Position of wisdom teeth
    Thanks to x-rays and 3D imaging, we can easily determine the position of wisdom teeth that are hidden by the gums. If wisdom teeth are positioned sideways or impacted, their growth will have a negative effect on your other teeth and should be removed.
  • Costs
    When to deciding whether or not remove wisdom teeth, cost is one of the biggest concerns for patients. If you have excellent insurance, you are more likely to have your teeth extracted. If you are paying out of pocket, you may be more likely to leave them in. But leaving your wisdom teeth alone may incur more costs down the line if they cause spacing issues, periodontal disease, and infection.
  • Fear
    Many people put off their oral health due to a fear of the dentist. With today’s advancements in medical procedures, there is no need to avoid us dentists! While oral sedation should only be used when absolutely necessary, it is a service that we offer here at Honce Dental Centre for our patients who have anxiety.

These days, there are more and more dentists and health professionals who advocate for leaving wisdom teeth alone and the conflicting information can be overwhelming. The important thing to remember is that your situation is unique and it is important that you discuss your oral health and the pros and cons of wisdom tooth extraction with your dentist.


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