Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed? | Mount Lawley Dental
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?
General Dentistry

Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?

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Wisdom tooth removal is sometimes the best way to treat and prevent serious problems, but it isn't always necessary.

5 minute read 

It's normal to feel some pain or discomfort when a wisdom tooth comes through, but more intense pain or other symptoms may be signs of a problem. In these cases, dentists will normally recommend removing the problematic wisdom tooth. This can relieve your symptoms and stop the problem from getting worse.

Wisdom teeth removal is not always necessary, and is determined on a case-by-case basis. If you think tooth pain is caused by a wisdom tooth problem, it's important to have a check-up with a dentist as soon as possible, as delaying treatment could increase your risks of tooth damage.

If you need to see a dentist in Perth about your wisdom teeth, book a consultation at Mount Lawley Dental. One of our experienced dentists will examine your mouth, discuss your symptoms, and explain all of your options. Call (08) 9227 8777 today or book an appointment online.

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What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars that erupt in the back of the mouth. Like the other molars, they are responsible for crushing and grinding food to make it easier to swallow and digest.

They develop much later than the other permanent teeth, usually coming through in the late teens to early 20s. There are usually four wisdom teeth, two in each jaw. However, some people develop fewer wisdom teeth, or no wisdom teeth at all.

It's thought that wisdom teeth were useful for early humans, who were prone to losing teeth as a result of their diet and poor oral hygiene. With modern dental care and food preparation, wisdom teeth are no longer considered necessary, but they are only removed when they are considered to be a risk.

How do I know if my wisdom teeth need to removed?

If one or more of your wisdom teeth are causing problems, your dentist may recommend having them removed. Signs that you may need wisdom tooth removal could include:

  • Pain in the back of your mouth
  • Signs of infection, such as swelling, fever or bad breath
  • The tooth is difficult to brush, increasing your risk of tooth decay
  • The tooth has not erupted from the gum, or only partially erupted
  • The tooth has erupted too far, which may cause irritation or injury in the mouth
  • The tooth has erupted at the wrong angle, causing crowding or alignment problems

Dentists may sometimes recommend wisdom tooth extraction even if you don't currently have symptoms. This may happen if they determine that there may be a high risk of the tooth causing problems in the future, or if the tooth may interfere with another treatment you're having, such as teeth straightening.

If none of these cases apply, a wisdom tooth probably does not need to be removed. Your dentist may discuss alternative treatments or remedies to help you manage your pain or other symptoms until the tooth has come through.

Common reasons for wisdom teeth removal

Impaction or partial eruption

If there is not enough space in your jaw for a wisdom tooth to erupt, it may remain trapped (impacted) inside the gum, or only partially erupt. This can put pressure on the surrounding teeth and jaw, which may be painful. An impacted wisdom tooth may also lead to other problems, such as infections, abscesses or ulcers.

Wisdom tooth removal is generally recommended for an impacted or partially-erupted tooth. An alternative in some cases may be to remove a flap of gum tissue covering the tooth, allowing the tooth to come through easier.


Sometimes, a wisdom tooth may grow too long, erupting further into the mouth than the surrounding teeth. This can affect how your teeth bite together, making it harder to eat and leading to orthodontic issues in the future. If the tooth touches the cheek or the inside of the mouth, it may also cause damage and discomfort.

An over-erupted wisdom tooth may need to be removed, or it may be reduced to a more regular size by your dentist.

Crowding or misalignment

If you don't have enough space for extra teeth in your jaws when wisdom teeth come through, this can cause them to push the surrounding teeth out of their normal alignment. This may cause problems with chewing, make it hard to brush and floss, lead to orthodontic issues, or cause excessive wear from teeth grinding. If teeth are pushed towards the cheek, they may also cause ulcers.

Removal is usually recommended if a wisdom tooth is causing crowding. It may also be recommended as a preventive measure if crowding is likely to happen. Crowded or misaligned teeth may be corrected with teeth straightening.

Preparation for other treatments

If your wisdom teeth have already erupted, and are not causing problems, they may still be removed at a later date if their presence is likely to interfere with a dental treatment or surgery you're having.

Wisdom tooth removal can improve access to the jaw for jaw surgery, or create more space in the jaw to improve results from orthodontic treatment.

Preventive measure

If your dentist determines that there may be a high risk of you or your child developing wisdom tooth problems in the future, they may recommend removing the teeth early . Wisdom teeth can be easier to remove in the teenage years than in adulthood, as the roots have not yet fully formed.

Careful consideration is needed to determine whether preventive wisdom teeth removal is likely to be beneficial, to avoid unnecessary surgery.

Need to book a wisdom tooth consultation? Book online today.

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What happens when a wisdom tooth is removed?

Wisdom teeth removal is a routine dental procedure that may involve one or more visits to the dental clinic, depending on how many teeth are being extracted.

Some wisdom teeth may only require a simple extraction under a local anaesthesia, while more complex cases may involve minor surgery under sedation.

Examination and treatment planning

Your dentist will examine your mouth and discuss your symptoms to determine whether wisdom tooth removal is needed. This will involve taking an x-ray to see the position of the wisdom tooth and plan your treatment.

At Mount Lawley Dental, we have a CBCT and OPG machine for onsite diagnostics and to aid your treatment planning.

Pain relief

As with other dental procedures, wisdom teeth are removed under local anaesthetic, to numb pain responses in your mouth. If you're having a more complex extraction, having multiple wisdom teeth removed at once, or have dental anxiety, your dentist may discuss sedation options such as IV sedation or general anaesthesia.

Removing the wisdom tooth

If a wisdom tooth has already fully erupted, it can usually be removed like a normal tooth. Your dentist will gently rock the tooth back and forth to loosen it, then remove it from the gum.

If the tooth is impacted in the gum, your dentist will need to make an incision to access it. The tooth will then usually be broken up and removed in smaller pieces, along with some surrounding bone. The gum will then be stitched closed.

How long does it take to recover from wisdom tooth removal?

It's recommended to take it easy and avoid exertion on the day of your wisdom tooth extraction. Depending on how complex the procedure was, and the type of sedation used, you may need to take up to a week off work.

Your mouth may be sore or swollen after a tooth is removed. This can be managed by taking over-the-counter pain relief or other remedies, such as rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. If your mouth is bleeding, apply gauze and bite down until the bleeding stops.

During the first 24 hours after wisdom tooth surgery, a blood clot will form over the extraction site that helps it to heal and prevents infection. To avoid dislodging the blood clot during the healing period, you should avoid:

  • brushing or touching the treated area
  • hard foods and hot food and drinks
  • spitting or sucking through a straw
  • tobacco and alcohol

What are the risks of wisdom tooth removal?

Wisdom tooth surgery is a routine procedure that involves minimal risk when it's performed by qualified and experienced practitioners. However, it's still important to be aware of the possible complications. These can include:

  • Dry socket, when the blood clot over the treated site does not form properly or is dislodged, leaving the tooth open to infection
  • Damage to surrounding teeth or other structures, such as nerves or the jaw
  • Allergic reactions to materials or medication

Your dentist will make sure you understand the possible complications of wisdom tooth removal so you can decide whether to have the treatment. However, avoiding or delaying treatment often involves greater risks.

What are the alternatives to wisdom tooth removal?

Wisdom tooth problems can sometimes be treated without removing the tooth. Depending on the situation, other options could include:

  • Taking pain relief medication to help manage wisdom tooth pain
  • Removing some gum tissue to help the tooth come through
  • Treating an infection by cleaning and disinfecting the area or prescribing antibiotics
  • Removing the crown of the tooth, rather than the whole tooth

Your dentist will make sure you know all of your options so you can make a fully informed decision about the treatment you choose.

Book a consultation for wisdom teeth removal in Mount Lawley

If a wisdom tooth is causing your trouble, make an appointment with our experienced dentists at Mount Lawley Dental for a full examination and to discuss your treatment options.

Call our team today on (08) 9227 8777 or book a consultation online. We welcome patients from all nearby areas, including North Perth, Highgate and Inglewood.

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  1. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/wisdom-teeth
  2. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/surgery/removing-wisdom-teeth 


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