Wisdom Teeth

Hi Dr. Ellie,

I have very tiny upper wisdom teeth maybe half normal size and my dentist says they are serving no purpose and should be taken out. I’m in my 50’s and was wondering if I should leave them or extract them. I understand the older you are the more complications you can have in extracting them. A year ago the X-rays showed decay, but since I have been using your system they no longer hurt when I floss. Also, I’ve read that Novocaine can cause cancer. In general what are your thoughts regarding upper wisdom teeth for middle age folks? I had my lower ones removed when I was very young.

Thanks very much.


Dear LG:

Hmmm…. this question is a lot more clinical so it would really involve looking at the bite, the teeth etc to give you a good answer. I also do not want to sound as if I am giving different advice from the advice you have received from your dentist.

Upper wisdom teeth usually have a cone shaped root and so if they do have to come out it should not be a problem. Upper wisdom teeth usually give dentists the chance to impress patients with their extraction skills!

On the other hand, I believe far too many (unnecessary) wisdom teeth are removed. If there were no money in the venture I bet many more would remain in people’s mouths sorry to be so cynical but I wisdom teeth are good income vs time value!

I would probably wait a while if they were my teeth. Ensure that there is no decay or gum disease in or around them in about a year from now that should give any decay time to heal up etc. If all is well I have seen 100 year old patients with wisdom teeth who are perfectly happy.

Sorry not to be able to be more help but I would not rush into any extraction unless it is an emergency!

Best Wishes,

26 Corporate Woods
Rochester, NY 14623

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