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It has long been a rite of passage to have one’s wisdom teeth removed in the late teenage years to early twenties. Generally, the family dentist or orthodontist refers the patient to the oral surgeon, but many patients come to see us and don’t really understand why their wisdom teeth need to be removed. After all, many patients don’t have pain and wonder if it is necessary.

For most patients, the wisdom teeth are impacted, meaning that they aren’t able to erupt into the mouth into a normal functional position where they can be cleaned and maintained in a state of good health. The problem with this is that deep pockets form in the gum tissue around the impacted teeth and this harbors bacteria. Many patients say they get periodic soreness around the wisdom teeth; this is due to the buildup of bacteria that live and thrive in this environment. Many studies show that people who have not removed their wisdom teeth have a significantly higher chance of developing permanent gum disease or dental decay in the adjacent teeth, and even in teeth that are further away from the wisdom teeth.

Another potential long term consequence of leaving impacted and nonfunctional wisdom teeth in place is the link that has been shown in many studies between dental disease and other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. The cause for many of these diseases is now thought to be at least in part due to chronic inflammation. When heavy bacterial growth associated with dental disease gets into the circulation it can be a source of such chronic inflammation. This is well understood in the medical and dental community.

Obviously, no surgical procedure should be taken lightly. When you make an appointment with our practice for a consultation, we will explain the benefits as well as the risks of wisdom teeth removal and will make our recommendation for treatment based on your individual situation. Your health, comfort and safety are always our primary concern.