Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
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Wisdom Tooth: Do I Need to Save It?

Published on Nov 09, 2018 and last reviewed on Dec 13, 2022   -  4 min read


Wisdom teeth are the last tooth to erupt in the oral cavity. Read the article below to know about wisdom teeth and the common problems associated with them.

Wisdom Tooth: Do I Need to Save It?

Knowing the difference between a normal and problematic situation is necessary to see if the wisdom tooth must be saved or removed. Also, basic knowledge about the current trend of common problems will help you be relaxed and rule out unnecessary confusion. So, go ahead and update yourself on wisdom teeth.

What Is a Wisdom Tooth?

Third molars, also called wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. They are placed most posteriorly, and there are four wisdom teeth in total, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw (one in each quadrant). There are no predecessors for molars in your milk teeth sequence. So, no permanent molar will be replaced once lost.

What Are the Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

The symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth are:

When Can You Expect Your Wisdom Teeth to Pop Into Your Oral Cavity?

It has an average age range of 17 to 21 years but can extend to 23 or more years.

Are You Checking Your Wisdom Teeth?

When your wisdom teeth are in a normal position, like other teeth, just check if you have any cavity or gum swelling there. If yes, visit the dentist and get the treatment done. Maintain your oral hygiene properly, and there, you save your teeth.

Now comes the situation that it is not fully erupted or improperly placed, and you are already within that age range or beyond. There comes the culprit. Let us get into it in detail.

What Is an Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

If your wisdom teeth are not there or partially erupted, it is called an impaction. Now, the chances are that it is missing because it has not developed at all.

Wisdom teeth or third molar are the most commonly impacted teeth in the oral cavity in humans. The impacted wisdom teeth can lead to pathology in 12% of cases. Only less than 2% of adults with age 65 years or older will maintain teeth without cavities or periodontal disease, and only 13% will have wisdom teeth without impaction and cavities or periodontal disease.

What Causes the Wisdom Teeth to Be Painful?

Impacted wisdom teeth can leave the gums vulnerable, as the surface breaks and the teeth are not entirely through. Food and bacteria can get trapped in the gums and lead to several issues, including:

  • Cysts.

  • Infections.

  • Gum disease.

  • Abscesses.

What Should You Do if Your Wisdom Teeth Are Missing or Partially Erupted?

For your satisfaction, get an OPG (orthopantomogram) x-ray done to check for the teeth' presence, position, and condition. Then further management can be decided upon. Prevention is better than cure. Consult a dentist with your OPG for guidance as to find whether there is any future complication associated with it or not.

How to Treat Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

In case you have pain, wisdom teeth cause severe discomfort while erupting. Sometimes, the inflammation of gums covering the tooth or any other pathology associated with it might cause pain and sometimes swelling. It can reduce your mouth opening as well. Consult your dentist with an OPG, and they will prescribe you analgesics, antibiotics, and other medicines if required for symptomatic relief and explain to you the treatment.

Do not go for over-the-counter medicines on your own; instead, consult the dentist. It is necessary to give proper treatment based on the condition and medical history to prevent drug resistance or other complications. Treatment for such cases is the removal of the tooth. I will explain the reason further down into the article.

What Is Improper Positioning of Wisdom Teeth?

Now, let us discuss about the improper position and condition of the teeth. Wisdom teeth can sometimes be tilted towards the cheek and cause frequent ulcers or can cause severe cavities or infection.

What can be done about this? If the cavity is mild, you can get it filled if the position and eruption are proper and complete. For mild gum inflammation, cleaning or scaling can be done. Sometimes, the tooth is covered by thick gum or flap, which might stop the potential eruption of the teeth, and you can have frequent inflammation of that (pericoronitis). It is better to get it removed. Sometimes, removing or cutting that flap may help in the eruption of teeth. Again, all this will be decided by your dentist.

In Which Situation Should We Remove the Wisdom Teeth?

It is often advised to be removed because these wisdom teeth do not help in chewing function as evolution has led to decreased function of these and more impaction cases. Maintaining these teeth is also difficult in most cases as they are placed at the very back, and maintaining them becomes difficult. This leads to frequent problems. So, keeping all this in mind, it is better to get it removed. It can require either surgical removal or normal extraction based on its position, and both procedures will be explained to you by your dentist. Mostly, they are done under local anesthesia. General anesthesia is preferred if all four wisdom teeth have to be removed in a single appointment.

What Precautions Are to Be Taken After Surgical Removal of the Wisdom Teeth?

Kindly follow all the instructions properly after extraction or surgical removal, given by your dentist, like mouth opening exercises, gargling, suture removal, food intake, etc., to avoid complications like a dry socket or reduced mouth opening. Give the dentist your complete medical and dental history.

What Are the Home Remedies for Painful Wisdom Teeth?

The few home remedies used to soothe painful wisdom teeth are:

  • Numbing gel.

  • Over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen, etc.

  • Ice packs.

  • Teabags.

  • Saltwater rinse.

  • Onion for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Cloves.

Golden Rule:

When in doubt, consult your dentist. Gaining information from the internet is good but do not confirm or assume anything based on what you read. For further in-depth details and information, only a dentist can help you. Until then, keep chewing and keep smiling.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is It Important to Save the Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are also known as the third molar and are the last teeth to erupt in the oral cavity (mouth). Most individuals have four wisdom teeth, while it may be clinically missing in a few individuals. Saving the wisdom tooth can be helpful in stem cell culture if the tooth is extracted in good condition and is not decayed.


Is Wisdom Teeth Worth Saving?

Saving the wisdom tooth can be helpful as the cells derived from the tooth have the potential to be differentiated into different types of cells. However, storing the teeth can be expensive as it requires a higher maintenance to keep the tissues viable. With continuous research and ongoing studies, saving wisdom teeth may yield useful benefits in the future.


What Are the Consequences of Keeping the Wisdom Tooth?

If the wisdom tooth has enough space to erupt or there is sufficient space in the jaw, retaining the wisdom tooth can be of less harm. In cases of tooth decay or awkward eruption of wisdom teeth, the adjacent teeth are highly susceptible to caries. In addition, it is important to make sure there is an opposing tooth, as the fundamental purpose is chewing food.


Is It Natural for Wisdom Teeth to Fall on Their Own?

It is rare for wisdom teeth to fall on their own unless an individual suffers from any underlying medical condition like diabetes. Also, aged individuals may have mobility due to the loss of the surrounding tooth structure that supports the tooth. As a result, the wisdom tooth may fall on its own.


What Number of People Retain Their Wisdom Teeth?

Most Americans prefer to extract their wisdom teeth, as retaining them may cause complications. Studies show that 90 % of individuals remove the wisdom tooth. Extracting the wisdom tooth as a precaution can save unnecessary pain.


What Is the Pain Duration if the Wisdom Tooth Is Not Extracted?

The duration of pain may vary depending on the degree of caries and severity of the condition. The pain may range from a month to a year. Although painkillers can give quick relief, there are higher chances of pain recurrence. Hence it is crucial to extract the tooth to prevent unnecessary complications.


Can Wisdom Teeth Get Infected Under the Gums?

Yes, wisdom teeth can get infected and rot under the gums. Most wisdom teeth may not be able to erupt completely and are stuck within the bone and covered by gums. Only a small portion of the tooth is visible, which may get infected and spread to the tooth hidden beneath the gums.


When Do Wisdom Teeth Fall Out?

Wisdom teeth are the last to erupt in the oral cavity. They erupt after the age of 18 years. The wisdom teeth may fall out in aged individuals with poor oral hygiene and loss of bone support. Hence there is no specific age for wisdom tooth loss like primary teeth.


Which Race Lacks Wisdom Teeth?

All individuals have wisdom teeth; however, they may be hidden inside the bone in most cases and can be found in X-rays. The American population of European ancestry may have either one of their wisdom teeth missing.


Are There Roots in Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth have a unique morphology, and they have roots that may vary with each individual. The roots of the upper wisdom tooth are usually fused, and the lower teeth may have two roots. The roots help to anchor the tooth to the bone.


How Is the Duration of Wisdom Teeth Surgery?

Wisdom tooth surgery is a skillful procedure performed by experts as it requires bone guttering (cutting the bone). It helps to provide easy access to the roots and aids in complete removal without leaving back any remnants. Depending on the complexity, the surgery may take an hour or even more.


Do Wisdom Teeth Turn Black?

The wisdom tooth is the last in the oral cavity and may be challenging to reach out for brushing due to inaccessibility. Most commonly, molars help to grind food. Therefore, poor brushing may affect the wisdom teeth causing caries that give a black appearance.

Last reviewed at:
13 Dec 2022  -  4 min read




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