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Reasons for the Removal of Wisdom Teeth

Updated on June 13, 2011

Should you have your wisdom teeth removed?

It’s true that removal of wisdom teeth is a very common practice, though not everyone knows the reasons for it. Just because wisdom teeth grow in doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be removed. In fact, there is much debate on whether to remove them or not, but they do often cause problems that call for extraction.

Wisdom teeth usually come in around mid/late teenage years to early twenties and are generally associated with pain. During growth, the pain may feel like pressure in the back of the mouth and the growth areas may feel sensitive to touch of a toothbrush, food, etc. The irritation most frequently occurs for one or both of these two reasons:

1. Newly growing in teeth don’t always grow in straight; they frequently grow in either angled towards the front, back, or even completely sideways. This angling causes them to impact other teeth or rub against the tongue or cheeks, which may result in irritation and possible infection. According to Scienceline, an NYU research program, the reason for the shifted growth of wisdom teeth is because human jaws have evolved smaller and smaller over time.

2. It can be difficult to clean in the crevices between the gums and wisdom teeth in the back of the mouth. This can lead to bacteria buildup and infections and soreness. Similarly, wisdom teeth might not even come all the way through the gum line, which results in soft gum tissue or cysts around the area of the tooth. This is especially difficult to clean and also causes bacteria buildup and infections.

Evolution has lead to wisdom teeth being unnecessary—they are officially included in Discover’s list of unnecessary body parts. Logically, they were needed when humans ate rough foods like raw meats, but overtime our diets and jaws have changed. Since we don’t need the teeth any more, it makes sense to have wisdom teeth removed in the case of oral health problems such as impacted teeth, bacterial infections, irritations, or cysts.


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