Do all wisdom teeth have to be removed?

Sometimes it seems that wisdom tooth removal has become a teenage rite of passage, but do all wisdom teeth really have to be removed? Wisdom teeth are actually more accurately referred to as third molars, and as such are essentially just another tooth. Provided a third molar has fully erupted, is easily accessible for oral hygiene, and is causing no signs or symptoms, it is perfectly reasonable to leave it in place. Unfortunately wisdom teeth often fail to fully erupt leading to problems such as gum inflammation and decay. If wisdom teeth are impacted (not fully erupted) Dr. Currie will discuss the risks and benefits of leaving them in place versus removal.

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Since wisdom teeth are so often impacted and causing signs or symptoms that justify removal you may wonder why we even have them. There is no definitive answer to that question and in fact some people do not develop any wisdom teeth at all. One hypothesis is that changes in our diet over time have led to changes in jaw development and tooth wear which leaves less space for third molar eruption.

What is the best time to remove wisdom teeth?

If wisdom teeth do need to be removed, the complexity and timing of the surgery is best assessed on an individual basis using a panoramic radiograph. Since growth and development rates vary widely between individuals the ideal age can vary from 16 to 21 years.