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Wisdom Tooth: Do I Need to Save It?

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Wisdom Tooth: Do I Need to Save It?

4 min read


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

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At November 9, 2018
Reviewed AtMay 22, 2024


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 one to relax and rule out unnecessary confusion; so, go ahead and update on wisdom teeth.

What Is a Wisdom Tooth?

Third molars, also called wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt in the 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 the milk teeth sequence. So, no permanent molar will be replaced once lost.

What Are the Symptoms of an Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

The symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth are:

When to Expect the Wisdom Teeth to Pop Into the Oral Cavity?

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

Is Checking the Wisdom Tooth Necessary?

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

Now comes the situation that it is not fully erupted or improperly placed and is 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 the 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 percent of cases. Only less than 2 percent of adults aged 65 years or older will maintain teeth without cavities or periodontal disease, and only 13 percent 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 One Do if the Wisdom Teeth Are Missing or Partially Erupted?

For 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 the OPG for guidance on whether there is any future complication associated with it.

How to Treat Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

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

Do not go for over-the-counter medicines; 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.

What Is Improper Positioning of Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth can sometimes be tilted towards the cheek and cause frequent ulcers or can cause severe cavities, or infections.

If the cavity is mild, one 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 cause frequent inflammation (pericoronitis). It is better to get it removed. Sometimes, removing or cutting that flap may help in teeth eruption. Again, all this will be decided by the dentist.

In Which Situation Is Removal of the Wisdom Teeth Advised?

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. This leads to frequent problems. So, keeping all this in mind, it is better to get it removed. It can require surgical removal or normal extraction based on its position, and the dentist will explain both procedures. 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 Must Be Done After Teeth Removal?


  • Follow post-operative care instructions provided by the dentist or oral surgeon.

  • Rest and allow the body to heal.

  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling.

  • Eat soft foods and stay hydrated.

  • Keep the mouth clean with gentle rinsing and brushing.

Do not’s:

  • Smoke or use tobacco products, as they can delay healing.

  • Use straws, as sucking can dislodge blood clots.

  • Eat hard, crunchy, or spicy foods that may irritate the extraction sites.

  • Engage in strenuous physical activity for a few days.

  • Neglect to contact the dentist in case of excessive bleeding, severe pain, or other concerning symptoms.

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

Kindly follow all the instructions properly after extraction or surgical removal given by the 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 the 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.


When in doubt, consult the dentist. Gaining information from the internet is good, but do not confirm or assume anything based on what one reads. Only a dentist can help with further in-depth details and information. 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.
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Dr. Divya Banu M
Dr. Divya Banu M



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