This question comes up more often than people may realize. The wisdom teeth were once used to tear meat apart before evolution made them unnecessary. However, many people are able to keep their wisdom teeth if the teeth are aligned correctly in their mouth and are not causing them issues. There are also incidents of individuals not having wisdom teeth at all. This is very rare, but is most likely going to become more common that it currently is.
Wisdom teeth can grow into the mouth correctly aligned and cause no issue whatsoever. This is ideal and the least painful for the individual. However, there are those teeth that do not come through and become impacted. This can be very painful and also increases the need for surgical removal of your wisdom teeth.
When wisdom teeth become impacted, it is because they have become blocked and are being prevented from growing in properly. This is caused because there is not enough room in your mouth for the additional teeth that the wisdom teeth represent. The teeth lie horizontally in your mouth instead of upright, causing the impaction as they grow into the other teeth in front of them. Occasionally wisdom teeth grow sideways, called sprouting. This is a problem because it will sprout toward another tooth, and can become a place where plaque and bacteria grow, causing cavities.
If a wisdom tooth collides with a root from another tooth, you can imagine the pain will be indescribable. The wisdom tooth can wear against another tooth, causing pain and additional issues.
Wisdom teeth are extremely susceptible to cavities. If you decide to keep your wisdom teeth, and get a cavity in them, it is not wise to fill the cavity. Your dentist will most likely recommend you have the teeth removed as you will continue to get cavities and they will be a continuous fight to keep healthy.
If you choose not to remove your wisdom teeth, you will need to take additional efforts to clean your teeth. Flossing is not to be missed on a daily basis and you have to make sure you get around all the teeth, even the back teeth. A fluoridated mouth wash is also a requirement, to give additional fluoride to the wisdom teeth.
There is no “right age” to have your wisdom teeth removed. If you are younger, the healing process will be easier. However, if you have had them and not had any issues with them, then there is no need to take them out. You need to have them removed when it seems right for you, based upon pain level, or cavities and dental issues.
Removing the wisdom teeth will either be done under a light general anesthesia or a more localized anesthesia. If you have pain with the local, you need to let your dentist or oral surgeon know immediately. Removing wisdom teeth should not be painful during the procedure. After the removal, you may feel swelling and pain. Your provider will subscribe you pain medication as they feel appropriate. They will also strongly instruct you that you should not use a straw to drink or smoke cigarettes. This may cause dry socket, and will cause further dental issues that will require further attention.
Speak to your dentist about your options and the best way to handle your wisdom teeth. They will be able to refer you to an oral surgeon for the removal if you both agree that is the appropriate step to take. Otherwise, they will be able to set up a plan with you to maintain your oral health and prevent any issues with your wisdom teeth and the teeth around them.