Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

When healthy wisdom teeth grow into the mouth with proper alignment, they can add valuable function to the mouth. Unfortunately, the majority of wisdom teeth do not grow with proper alignment and require removal from the mouth.

One of the most common misalignments seen is horizontal growth beneath or above the gum line. When wisdom teeth growth horizontally, they may grow toward or away from the second molar or even inward toward the tongue or outward toward the cheek. This abnormal growth pattern has the potential to push the rest of the teeth out of alignment or to damage the adjacent teeth, jaw bone, or nerves in the mouth.

When teeth only partially emerge from beneath the gums, or do not fully erupt, they are extremely difficult to keep clean. The partial opening in the gums creates room for bacteria to enter the tooth and the gums and create a wide range of unpleasant side effects. When infection from the bacteria begins to formulate, many individuals experience pain, jaw stiffness, swelling, or even bodily illness.

The inability to properly brush these teeth can also have negative side effects. Their positioning and the amount of eruption can often make it difficult for tooth brushes to properly scrub the entire tooth and can make flossing problematic. When these teeth are not fully cleaned, they are more likely to develop gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay.

Most oral and maxillofacial surgeons will agree that removing wisdom teeth for the mouth is the best route to prevent unnecessary crowding and infection and lead to additional orthodontic and dental work in the long run.