The Real Reason Not Everyone Needs Their Wisdom Teeth Removed

Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, typically come in between the ages of 17 and 21, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Most people have four wisdom teeth located in the backs of their mouths, with two on the top and two on the bottom. While often wisdom teeth to need to be extracted, or removed, there are a number of reasons why some people are able to keep their wisdom teeth. If your third molars are healthy, have grown in completely, and are positioned correctly so you can bite properly with opposing teeth, they may not need to be removed (via Mayo Clinic). In such cases, it's just important to remember that these teeth need to be cleaned as part of daily oral hygiene.

Some people may be missing third molars (via Healthline). In fact, it's estimated that between 5 and 37 percent of people do not have one or more of their wisdom teeth, according to a review paper published in the Dental Research Journal. It's not known why some people are missing their wisdom teeth, but scientists believe it may have to do with genetics, with other factors like diet as possible contributors. 

When wisdom teeth need to be removed

It's important to note that just because you don't see your wisdom teeth does not mean you don't have them. Sometimes they can become stuck in the gums and won't fully come out, which can cause problems such as infection or damage to other teeth roots and bones (via Mayo Clinic). A dental x-ray will help your dentist determine whether or not your wisdom teeth should be removed.

Another reason wisdom teeth need to be extracted is if there is not enough room in your mouth for them to grow in properly. This can result in crowding and damage to nearby teeth. If the third molars grow in partially, this can also cause problems, as it creates passageway where bacteria can thrive and lead to infection and gum disease. Some dentists may recommend removing wisdom teeth that don't full emerge as a precautionary measure, even if they are not causing issues. According to the ADA, wisdom teeth may need to be removed if the following conditions are occurring in the mouth: pain, infection, cysts, tumors, gum disease, tooth decay, and damage to nearby teeth.