Reasons why wisdom teeth should be removed.
Valid reasons to extract wisdom teeth.
- Pericoronitis / Infection associated with a wisdom tooth.
- Complications associated with tooth decay.
- Periodontal disease (gum disease).
- Pathology (cysts, tumors) associated with a wisdom tooth.
- Risk of damage to adjacent teeth / Root resorption.
- Chronic pain or discomfort.
- Problems associated with poor tooth alignment.
Questionable (debated) reasons given for third molar extraction.
Some of these reasons are more valid than others.
When you read through our list, take notice of the fact that we have labeled a few of them as being "questionable."
By this we mean that their validity is not universally accepted by the dental profession as a whole (despite having been used as a justification for decades).
Of course, there are always exceptions and differing opinions in regard to any type of dental treatment, and wisdom-tooth removal is no different. In fact, even some the reasons we've categorized as being "valid" are sometimes debated.
For more information about this aspect of this topic, visit our page: Is it always necessary to remove wisdom teeth?
Reasons to extract wisdom teeth - General categories.
A) Some 3rd molars can't be properly maintained.
Some of the reasons given for wisdom-tooth extraction are based on the fact that third molars can be very difficult to properly clean and maintain. This is especially true for those that are misaligned or malpositioned (impacted or not) and also those that are only partially erupted (teeth that don't fully stick out above the gum line as they should.)
If dental plaque is allowed to accumulate, the tooth and the tissues that surround it will be at risk for tooth decay ("cavities"), periodontal disease ("gum disease") and recurring infections (pericoronitis).
B) Hidden reasons.
Some of the events that necessitate the removal of a person's wisdom teeth may only be detectable via the use of radiographs.
C) Some justifications for extraction are no longer universally accepted.
As suggested above, some of the rationales for wisdom-tooth extraction cited in previous decades are no longer widely accepted by the dental community as a whole, to the point that some of them are now fervently debated.
For example, it was previously thought that their presence (and the process associated with them coming in) could cause other teeth in the mouth to become shifted or misaligned. The fact of the matter is, however, that this "tooth crowding" theory has never been definitively confirmed by research.
Also, nowadays just the basic thought that all impacted wisdom teeth must be removed is no longer universally accepted. Instead it is regularly and heatedly debated.