I have already given a detailed blog about various wisdom teeth and the pros and cons about their removal. Basically, a wisdom tooth is like any other tooth – if it erupts normally into the mouth it is fine but at risk of decay. If decay gets into the nerve area it causes pain, swelling and infection. It is often inaccesable to treat, so the wisdom tooth to be removed. If this risk appears high, or the teeth are not erupting normally and your dentist suspects future problems – he or she may recommend the tooths removal to reduce the risk to you of a serious infection or complications. The older you get, the more the wisdom teeth roots can grow towards the nerve in the jaw, and the harder your jawbone can get, increasing the risks of complications of surgery (such as permanent lip numbness or tingling – called paraesthesia). Your dentist is always trying to wiegh up the best alternative based on the information at hand.
I have taken some random photos of wisdom teeth we have seen in our practice. Some were fine, others were at risk, some were removed, and some required specilaist intervention. Don’t let anyone say you should or should not remove wisdom teeth without knowing your specific case – everybody is different.
To the right of each photo I have drawn and approximate line showing the roots of the teeth in black, the nerve in the jaw in blue, any obvious infection in the bone in yellow, and obvious decay in red.