Is Wisdom Tooth Extraction Always Necessary?

Wisdom Teeth Extraction New Albany, IN

For many patients, a wisdom tooth extraction is a necessary part of life. Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. Patients may experience pressure or pain during this process, and some patients have to see a dentist about it. Many people assume that everyone has to have wisdom teeth removed, but that is not always the case. Some people are born without all of the third molars, and others have room for these teeth to fully erupt.

3 situations in which a wisdom tooth extraction is necessary

Although some people are able to keep third molars, there are plenty of others who need a wisdom tooth extraction. In fact, a study by the National Institute of Health estimates that over 5 million Americans have these teeth removed each year. There are many reasons that extractions are necessary, including an impacted tooth, an infection around the tooth, or cavity formation. Each patient's situation is unique, so it is important that there is a complete discussion between a patient and doctor about the need for extractions.

1. Impaction

When a tooth is impacted, it is not erupting in the correct position. Either bone or another tooth is in the way, and this presents as pressure, pain, and swelling for the patient. Wisdom tooth pain is often intermittent, but it is important that patients see a doctor at the first sign of trouble. All of the impacted molars may be removed at one time, or the patient may elect to have the extractions one at a time.

2. Decay

Because third molars are the farthest back in the mouth, cleaning them properly is a challenge. Patients are more prone to developing decay in these teeth as a result of ineffective plaque removal. If a tooth is decayed badly enough, the dentist may deem it nonrestorable. Even if the tooth could be restored with a filling or root canal, it may not be essential for the patient's chewing function. In this case, the patient must decide if the investment in a wisdom tooth is worth it.

3. Cyst formation

Some people may not think that they need a wisdom tooth extraction because there may be no symptoms for years. It is important, though, that patients are having regular dental checkups and X-rays. A cyst can form around a third molar, and when this happens, extraction is often recommended. According to the Mayo Clinic, a dentigerous cyst is the most common to form around a wisdom tooth. Usually, this lesion is painless and has few symptoms, so it is important that unerupted third molars are monitored on a regular basis.


Around 17 years of age, patients should start asking a dentist about the condition of their wisdom teeth. It is important to be aware of any challenges that may arise with these teeth so that an informed decision can be made.

Request an appointment here: or call River Falls Family Dental at (812) 962-7342 for an appointment in our New Albany office.

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