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One of the most important decisions that teenagers are required to make is whether to keep their wisdom teeth or get them removed. Most dentists would advise them to get these teeth removed early on before they become well-rooted in the gums. Due to this, the common perception that people have in their mind regarding wisdom teeth is associated with pain, surgical procedures and dental complications. However, this perception is not entirely true.
Wisdom teeth or the third molar teeth are the last permanent teeth that grow out, usually between age 16 and 18. These teeth mature by 25 years of age and at that time, become completely well-rooted in the gums. Whether or not these teeth are removed is a decision that varies from individual to individual. For some people, these teeth might be impacted and can cause them a number of dental problems while for others, they are completely healthy and don’t need extraction at all.

When Do Wisdom Teeth Need To Be Removed?

Wisdom teeth should only be removed if they are having an adverse effect on your oral health, such as creating impacted teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth fail to grow in their natural position and come out partially or in the wrong direction. Such teeth cannot only damage adjacent teeth but can also cause several other periodontal diseases, cavities or infections. Here are some common complications that make wisdom teeth impacted:

  • Slow eruption of these teeth
  • Getting partially stuck below soft tissue
  • Settling lower than adjacent teeth
  • Teeth erupting in an angle against adjacent teeth
  • Over-eruption of top wisdom teeth in absence of lower teeth

Keep or Remove Wisdom Teeth – How to Decide?

It is best to get your dentist’s recommendation before making a final decision. In case you have completely healthy and normal wisdom teeth that naturally grow out just fine, there is no need to go through unnecessary surgical procedures.
Here are some questions that can help you determine whether you need to get these teeth removed or not. If your answer to any one or more of them is affirmative, you can get one or all of your wisdom teeth extracted:

  • Do these teeth cause pain?
  • Are these teeth decaying and cannot be reached for cleaning?
  • Do they pose a risk of affecting or damaging adjacent teeth?
  • Can these teeth weaken the jaw or increase the risk of jaw fracture?
  • Can these teeth be removed safely and is the benefit worth the risk?

An important thing to do is keeping a check on your wisdom teeth from an early age. Using radiographs and x-rays, the position and growth of wisdom teeth can be easily monitored. If the teeth appear to be impacted or problematic, you can get them removed early on, otherwise you can leave them. As always, it is best to consult your dentist before jumping to any decision. They will consult you in the direction that is best for your mouths long term future. Also be sure to consult your insurance carrier before getting them removed.