Why Do Wisdom Teeth Often Need to be Removed?

By Catherine M. Fascilla, D.D.S.

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, come in behind the upper and lower molars usually between the ages of 17 and 21. Unfortunately, problems can develop that may require their removal. Third molars can become impacted when the jaw is not large enough to accommodate them. Sometimes they may emerge only partway from the gum, grow sideways, or even remain completely trapped between the gum and bone.

When wisdom teeth erupt only partially, an opening is left for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause infection. If impacted wisdom teeth continue growing without enough room, they can cause damage or eventually destroy the teeth next to them. Extraction may also be required when impacted wisdom teeth cause a fluid-filled cyst or tumor, which can destroy surrounding bone or tooth roots.

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