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How To Tell If You'll Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Young woman with wisdom teeth pain

Each year, around 5 million Americans have their wisdom teeth extracted. Is it possible for you to tell if you're likely to be part of this statistic?

While there is no way to predict with absolute certainty whether someone will need to have their wisdom teeth removed, understanding both the genetic and symptomatic predictors can help guide you and your dentist in making the best choices for your dental health.

Who Gets Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are our third set of molars. They do not come in during young childhood like the rest of our teeth. Instead, wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. However, a small minority of the population (somewhere between 5-37%) never develop all four wisdom teeth at all.

However, for those who do, statistical data reveals that a significant portion are likely to encounter issues with their wisdom teeth. Studies suggest that as many as 85% of people who have wisdom teeth will eventually need them removed due to problems such as impaction, infection, or crowding of other teeth.

The reason for this high likelihood is an anatomical mismatch between the size of modern human jaws and the space required to accommodate these additional molars. In other words, for most people, wisdom teeth simply don't fit their mouths.

Will You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

If you haven't yet developed your wisdom teeth, or even if you have, you may be wondering (and worrying) that you will need them removed. While, as we mentioned, it is somewhat common, wisdom teeth removal is not guaranteed.

The Genetic Link to Wisdom Teeth Removal

Genetics plays a pivotal role in determining not only if you will have wisdom teeth but also whether these teeth might cause problems. If your parents or siblings had their wisdom teeth removed, you are more likely to need to as well. This familial pattern provides a clue as to how your own teeth might develop.

Early Signs

Dentists can often predict the likelihood of problems with wisdom teeth long before they cause discomfort. During regular dental check-ups in your teens and early twenties, we will use X-rays to track the growth and positioning of wisdom teeth beneath the gums. Key indicators include:

Recognizing Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Issues

While X-rays can help predict potential issues, physical symptoms are often what prompt you to seek out your dentist. Common symptoms that wisdom teeth are causing trouble include:

Why it's Important to Deal with Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth occur when the teeth become stuck in the jaw and cannot emerge normally. They present distinct symptoms that are important to recognize:

Regular dental visits and staying alert to the symptoms of wisdom teeth complications are your best strategies for managing your wisdom teeth. If you’re concerned your wisdom teeth are causing problems, or if it's time for a routine check-up, schedule an appointment today.


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