Wisdom Teeth Removals: The Evidence

Important: Every mouth is different, and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. See your dentist for a consultation.


  • if your wisdom teeth are already causing problems, remove them

  • if your wisdom teeth are very likely to cause problems, remove them

  • If your wisdom teeth are not causing AND NOT LIKELY TO CAUSE problems, the evidence is weak to justify removing them


  • Tooth decay (dental caries) - affects wisdom tooth itself, and puts adjacent tooth at risk of decay

  • Root resorption - shortening of roots of adjacent teeth

  • Gum disease (also called gingivitis or periodontal disease) - affects area surrounding wisdom tooth

  • Pericoronitis - when plaque causes an infection of the soft tissue that surrounds the tooth

  • Cellulitis - a bacterial infection in the cheek, tongue or throat

  • Abscess - a collection of pus in your wisdom teeth or the surrounding tissue as a result of a bacterial infection

  • Cysts and benign growths - a wisdom tooth that hasn't cut through the gum develops a cyst (a fluid-filled swelling)

If your wisdom teeth experiences any of the issues above, the advantages of removing the wisdom tooth outweighs the disadvantages. Where it gets tricky is evaluating the likelihood of problems when you're not experiencing any, particularly with impacted wisdom teeth.


Controversial issues and myths

WHere you live could affect the decision


If your wisdom teeth consistently causes issues, remove them. However, insufficient evidence is available to determine whether or not asymptomatic disease-free impacted wisdom teeth should be removed. Although asymptomatic disease-free impacted wisdom teeth may be associated with increased risk of periodontitis affecting adjacent second molars in the long term, the evidence is of very low quality.

These decisions should be made by qualified professionals on a case-by-case basis. Please see your dentist for a consultation.

Richard Cheung