Can I keep my wisdom teeth?

It is possible to keep your wisdom teeth…if you are one of the very few people who have an extended jaw that allows for three sets of molars to fit comfortably, and have reached middle age with no negative impact on your teeth or jaw because of them.

But for most of us, the answer to the question of whether or not to keep our wisdom teeth is “no.”

The reason is because of the anatomy and positioning of the wisdom teeth.

The anatomy of each tooth is what aids it to carry out its designed function. Your four front teeth are meant to bite food, your two canines (the sharp ones) are meant to sheer food, like tearing meat. Your molars are rounded and rather flat topped, and are designed to grind our food. When looking at the root of our teeth, they also have a special design. The molars have a flared root that is meant to stabilize heavy usage of the molars biting into our food and grinding down.

But for some reason when compared to our other molars, the wisdom teeth look and function much differently, their crown is oddly shaped and their root system is fused. Meaning, in essence they could not support the heavy load of constant chewing motions, leaving them with no functionality. Furthermore, chewing food with the very back of your mouth is not practical or comfortable.

Wisdom teeth can also cause obstruction to the rest of the teeth in many ways. Without us knowing, our teeth are always shifting and adjusting in micromillimeters. In time, this shifting will cause crowding, an effect that makes your lower four front teeth look crooked when they didn’t before. And sadly, this isn’t the worst effect of keeping your wisdom teeth.

Because we can’t chew with our wisdom teeth, we never feel them. We also rarely reach far enough back there to floss between the molars which then creates an area that harbors plaque and creates buildup. These issues can lead to a gum infection or a tooth infection, and if there’s enough buildup that accumulates over time you end up having extensive decay on the surface of the wisdom tooth. Here at VFD, we have encountered many emergency infections around the wisdom teeth that the patient wasn’t aware of. Because we rarely closely observe the back of our mouths, patients don’t become aware of decay or an infection until they start experiencing pain.   

The good news is, knowing these facts makes it very easy to say goodbye to the wisdom tooth that causes obstruction and wasn’t necessary in the first place.