Man’s jaw size has steadily decreased over time throughout evolution. As our diets of raw meats and plants have evolved into more processed and cooked foods, the size of modern man’s jaw has decreased and the need for 32 teeth has decreased as well. These factors often cause our last set of molars known as your wisdom teeth to have no room to erupt properly in alignment with your gums and other teeth. Some people genetically are missing one or more wisdom teeth. Other people’s wisdom teeth stay completely impacted or buried in the jaw never erupting through the gum. And yet other people (the majority) have wisdom teeth that partially erupt, never achieving a stable position or fully erupt in an unstable position.
This last scenario of wisdom teeth in an unstable position is the most damaging one often leading to the recommendation of removal. Because of their aberrant position, they are difficult to keep clean. This often leads to decay which cannot always be reached and repaired by your dentist. More importantly, the inability to keep them clean causes localized gum or periodontal inflammation leading to bone loss in that area. This bone loss compromises the functioning 2nd molar in front of your wisdom tooth. This is the number one reason to remove wisdom teeth. If these unstable teeth are left too long, you often will lose your 2nd molars as well because of the advanced bone loss. In addition, these unstable wisdoms cause a forward pressure on your remaining teeth often causing the front teeth to become more crowded and rotate.
Fully impacted wisdom teeth need to be monitored with periodic x-rays to make sure that they are not causing damage to the 2nd molars which can silently happen in your jaw. Sometimes these can be left alone and monitored but need close supervision. Lastly, some people do have sufficient room in their jaw for full eruption of stable wisdom teeth. As long as they are kept clean, they can be maintained. So there is no short answer as to whether it is wise to remove your wisdom teeth. The bottom line is that it is a very individual decision based on your particular clinical circumstances.
Please contact us to schedule an appointment for consultation.