When is wisdom tooth extraction necessary?

wisdom tooth extraction

Wisdom teeth, or the third permanent molars, generally erupt during our late teens. Depending on the size of your jaw and how your wisdom teeth develop (that is, in what position), you may or may not require wisdom tooth extraction.

The best way to be sure is to consult your dentist for a professional examination and assessment. Your dentist will review your dental history and perform a detailed examination of the general health of your mouth and condition of your wisdom teeth. A panoramic radiograph known as an OPG (orthopantomogram) will be taken to determine the position and growth of the wisdom teeth above and below the gum line.

There are two options for dealing with wisdom teeth:

1 Keep them. A few lucky people have sufficient space for the wisdom teeth to erupt in full function and can therefore take proper care of them. 

2 Remove them. In most cases, wisdom teeth can cause severe pain and/or other oral problems. That is when the best solution is extraction.

Some of the most common conditions requiring wisdom tooth extraction are as follows.

Gum infection

When a wisdom tooth is partially erupted through the gum, food debris and bacteria can accumulate beneath the gum line, causing infection, pain and swelling. If you suffer gum infection of this kind, you may find it difficult to chew and open your mouth. 


An impacted tooth may push against other teeth, causing pressure, and can lead to erosion of the other teeth.

Tooth decay

Due to the position of these teeth at the back of the mouth, it is difficult to maintain good oral hygiene and keep wisdom teeth free of plaque. Decay of the wisdom tooth may lead to painful infection. 


Sometimes a cyst may develop around impacted wisdom teeth. If left to grow, this can destroy a tremendous amount of bone, resulting in a fractured jaw.

You may experience pain or swelling associated with your wisdom teeth, or you may have no symptoms at all, even though your other teeth may be at risk of damage. That is why it is important to consult your dentist and have an assessment of your wisdom teeth.

Dr Cynthia Chu
BDSc (Melb)
General Dentist