What happens if I don’t remove my wisdom teeth?

You’ve been referred to an oral surgeon. Your dentist says you need to have your wisdom teeth removed.

You don’t want to go “under the knife” and you’re wondering what happens if you just forget about the whole thing and imagine your wisdom teeth aren’t there.

Well, here’s your answer. (Spoiler alert: it’s not good.)

Make way, coming through

A common reason to need your wisdom teeth removed is because your mouth and jaw are too small to support an additional set of molars.

If your wisdom teeth erupt, they’ll make room by pushing other teeth out of the way. This condition, called overcrowding, will lead to crooked and overlapping teeth. Waiting until your teeth have shifted to remove your wisdom teeth means it’s too late. You’ll require additional orthodontic care to straighten your smile.

Unnecessary pain

Having your wisdom teeth removed isn’t painless, but it’s better to get the discomfort over and done with than to deal with continued pain for the rest of your life. Impacted wisdom teeth, the ones trapped beneath your gum line can be very painful.

Chance of infection or abscess

Impacted wisdom teeth are prone to becoming infected or causing an abscess or cyst. If an infection goes undetected, this situation can cause otherwise healthy teeth to decay.

A partially erupted wisdom tooth is susceptible to an oral bacterial infection known as pericoronitis. Pericoronitis can be extremely painful and potentially dangerous.

Whoops, wrong way

Your wisdom teeth may be coming in crooked. In extreme cases wisdom teeth have been known to shift parallel to your jawbone, meaning that they can erupt sideways through your gums. Crooked wisdom teeth can permanently damage adjacent teeth and misalign your bite.

Additional risk of decay

Even when wisdom teeth do grow in properly, patients must take extra care to monitor their back molars. Wisdom teeth can be difficult to care for as they are hard to reach for daily flossing and proper brushing. These challenges can lead to bacterial growth and tooth decay if left unchecked.

There’s nothing to fear

If your dentist recommends the removal of your wisdom teeth, it’s probably for a good reason. In all but the rarest cases, foregoing surgical removal now will only lead to additional oral health concerns and surgical removal down the line.