Most of the time, the answer is a resounding YES! Most wisdom teeth cause nothing but problems down the road since very few people actually have sufficient room for them to come in and function correctly. Even when they do have the minimal “space” requirements, they are so difficult to get to that adequate flossing and brushing do not occur. Out of sight/out of mind is not good here since if a person cannot adequately clean and maintain the wisdom teeth, they put their immediate neighbors, the teeth in front of them in jeopardy leading to eventual loss of more than just the wisdom teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth are even worse since they are effectively “stuck” and will Never come in correctly. This is a problem for orthodontic patients that do not have them removed since the other teeth will eventually crowd together attempting to allow sufficient space for the wisdom teeth to emerge which they will not do. If they are partially exposed, the seal around them is not complete which leads to bacteria entering around the sack where the wisdom tooth developed leading to a painful infection known as pericoronitis. Even completely impacted wisdom teeth are not immune from this situation as the most posterior part of the teeth immediately in front of the wisdom teeth lack a fully developed seal as well where bacteria can enter and cause pericoronitis.
Impacted wisdom can also cause other problems down the road such as cavities that are formed from food trapped between the third molar and the molar in front of it. These cavities are sometime aren’t found until the wisdom teeth are removed or until the cavity grows deep into the tooth. If the cavity reaches the pulp of the tooth, other procedures is needed such as root canal therapy or worse, extraction. In the images below, you can see a before an after of an impacted wisdom before it was removed and after where a cavity was diagnosed.
There are special cases where patients have sufficient amount of space for wisdom teeth to grow and becomes functional so removing wisdom teeth isn’t always necessary. Consult with your dentist to see if removing your wisdom will benefit your over all oral health. If you choose to not remove your wisdom teeth, it is important to monitor third molars with regular check ups and panoramic x-rays.