Why is wisdom teeth extraction so common?

Doctor reviewing xray with patient

For many people, wisdom tooth extraction is the first and only oral surgery they experience in their life. Why is it the most common oral surgery? In this post, we’ll explain.

The average mouth is too small to fit a new row of molars

There are many theories for why humans have an extra row of molars that most people don’t have room for in their mouth. Some believe ancient humans used the extra teeth for grinding difficult-to-eat foods. Others point out that people were more likely to lose teeth in the past due to poor oral health care, which made room for additional teeth. But whatever the reason, the result is that the average modern human simply doesn’t have space in their jaw for extra teeth.

There are many reasons to remove your wisdom teeth

A lack of space in the jaw is just one motivation for extracting wisdom teeth. Other reasons can include:

  • Wisdom teeth are impacted and unable to fully erupt through the gum tissue
  • A patient is experiencing swollen gums, discomfort when eating, bad breath, stiff jaw or sinus discomfort and congestion

Wisdom teeth are extracted as a preventative measure

Unlike other oral surgeries that are only performed when there is a problem present, some patients remove their wisdom teeth as a preventative measure. Many dental professionals recommend extraction as a strategy for reducing the risk of oral health concerns.

The wisdom tooth x-ray

When your oral surgeon analyzes your mouth for wisdom teeth planning (either to let them grow in or to remove them), they look for several things. x-rays reveal the teeth and roots, along with their developmental phases. The doctor can also examine how each wisdom tooth aligns with neighboring teeth, sinuses and nerve canals.

Making a plan

After analyzing a patient’s x-rays and examining the oral cavity, oral surgeons can evaluate, plan, and manage wisdom tooth extractions safely and efficiently. While a recovery period is expected, most patients are able to manage postop discomfort with rest, ice and over-the-counter medication.