WISDOM TEETH: To Remove or Not to Remove?

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

Every one of us has three molars on each quadrant of our lower and upper jaws. The wisdom tooth is the innermost molar in each of the four quadrants. They usually become visible between the ages of 16 and 21.

Should I Remove Them?

You can leave your wisdom teeth as they are, when they are healthy, growing in and positioned properly. They should also be easy to clean.

However, more often than not wisdom teeth can become impacted, where they do not erupt into the mouth completely due to obstruction from other teeth. They can cause you pain, damage to other healthy teeth, and recurring gum infection. Even if these symptoms are missing, it does not imply an absence of gum disease.

You should consider removing your wisdom teeth when these issues appear:

  • Damage to other teeth, causing pain and bite issues.
  • Inflamed gums due to swelling of tissue around the wisdom teeth.
  • Cavities formed by pockets between teeth.
  • Sinus issues like pain, pressure and congestion.
  • Jaw damage caused by formation of cysts around the wisdom teeth.
  • X-ray results indicating potential future complications.
  • Alignment problems. Impacted wisdom teeth may cause overcrowding of other teeth and undo the effects of previous dental work, such as braces, crowns, bridges and partial dentures.

Many people choose to remove their wisdom teeth early, preferably shortly after they have erupted. Gums heal faster from the extraction if the surgery is performed at a younger age. This can also prevent potential complications and diseases that may surface later in life. Bone density increases with age, and the wisdom teeth may not be as easy to dislodge.

Complications may arise from delayed wisdom teeth removal, including:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Fractured teeth
  • Severe numbness
  • Nerve injury

Wisdom Tooth Surgery

Your initial consultation with the dentist includes a mouth examination, and x-rays to determine the position, condition of the wisdom tooth and the health of adjacent teeth and bone.

The surgery is a minor procedure that can be performed under local or general anaesthesia. It involves uncovering the overlying gums to reveal the tooth and bone. The tooth will be separated from the connecting gum tissue and removed. The dentist may break the tooth into smaller pieces before removal. The gums are then stitched back.


Some minor bleeding is expected after surgery, which can be controlled by biting on a piece of gauze for half an hour. Swelling and discolouration of the overlying skin will also occur, increasing for the first 72 hours and diminishing thereafter. You may be unable to open your mouth as wide as usual for the following few days.

You will usually be prescribed painkillers, antibiotics and an antiseptic mouthwash. It is recommended to maintain good oral hygiene and adhere to a soft diet for a few days after the surgery.

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