This is probably the most common question asked by our patients during the consultation process and as a result is the first subject for our blog. The answer to this question is not so simple. There are a small percentage of people who will never need their wisdom teeth (or third molars) removed. The underlying question is really; “why should I get my wisdom teeth out NOW?” That is an easier question to answer. The age at which someone will have their wisdom teeth removed varies from very young (12-13 years old) to adulthood. The most common time to have the procedure performed is between the ages of 16 and 20. The range varies so greatly due to the many reasons that someone will require wisdom teeth removal. The wisdom teeth may negatively affect the eruption or movement of other teeth for someone getting or about to get braces (orthodontics). The wisdom teeth attempting to erupt may also cause pain and or swelling of the gum tissue requiring their removal.
If your wisdom teeth are not currently causing issues for you specifically, there are still reasons to have your wisdom teeth electively removed. For years the oral surgery community has advocated for the early removal of wisdom teeth prior to adulthood when possible. Only recently however, have the studies to support this view been performed. The general result of the studies confirmed that the vast majority of people will develop more significant problems with their wisdom teeth in place (periodontal disease, cavities, cysts, etc.) compared to patients who have had their wisdom teeth electively removed. These results were the same for people with impacted wisdom teeth and for those whose wisdom teeth actually had enough room to erupt.
Given these results (that most people will have their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their life), having your wisdom teeth out as a young adult (16-20 years old) is recommended at our office. Statistically you are less likely to develop a significant complication from your wisdom tooth surgery (infection, numbness to lip, chin or tongue, sinus problems, etc.) at a younger age. As you get older the risks for these complications as well as the rate at which your body will recover from the surgery itself gets progressively worse. Also, it may be more convenient as a patient to have the surgery scheduled electively when it fits best into your schedule that to wait for an emergency situation that would be more disruptive to activities our patients are involved in (school, sports, extracurricular activities, etc.).
Discussing these issues and how they relate specifically to you is what occurs during our consultation process. Coming to our office to discuss the procedure does not commit you to undergoing any procedures but it does give you all the information you need to make an informed decision for yourself or your child.