When to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed in San Francisco

Every year, five million people have their wisdom teeth removed. Also known as “third molars,” these teeth are remnants from a time in human history where our species had larger mouths and jaws to accommodate the extra teeth, but these days they are mostly unnecessary and even can cause pain and infection if not removed.

As your San Francisco wisdom teeth dentist, Dr. Robert M. Walley wants to help make patients more comfortable, but there are certain signs those patients can watch out for to know when the best time would be to have those teeth removed.

When to Remove Wisdom Teeth

So how do you know whether you should have your wisdom teeth removed? The following are the few most common situations in which Dr. Walley will extract wisdom teeth:

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

If the wisdom teeth show up on an x-ray but get trapped (impacted) in your jaw, they can cause bigger problems down the road, such as infections and/or cysts. If x-rays show that wisdom teeth are impacted, the recommendation may be to have them removed.

Wisdom Teeth Can’t Emerge Completely

Sometimes, these molars emerge partially but can’t make their way all the way through the gum. This makes the area hard to clean properly, and we don’t want to keep bacteria traps like that in our mouths. In this case, removing the wisdom teeth is actually safer because it helps to prevent worse dental problems later.

Crowding of Other Teeth

When wisdom teeth make it all the way out of the gums but they clearly are crowding other nearby teeth and moving your smile out of alignment, it may be a good idea to have them removed. Not only can this crowding damage nearby teeth, but it can also make them harder to brush and floss, as well, making you more prone to cavities and gum disease.

Pain or Cysts

In some cases, the wisdom teeth emerging can cause incredible pain and sometimes even cysts. If the teeth are proving problematic at that level, they likely should be removed.

Preemptive Removal

Many dentists will recommend having wisdom teeth surgeries at a younger age when recovery is quicker than it would be at an older age. If x-rays show the potential for some of these problems further down the road, the dentist may recommend having the surgery preemptively before those problems can occur, and while the recovery will come easier.

When They Don’t Require Removal

Sometimes, patients don’t need to have their wisdom teeth removed. Those third molars can stay in your mouth if:


  • The teeth themselves are healthy.
  • They have grown in completely without complications.
  • They are properly positioned and won’t cause shifting among your other teeth.
  • They are positioned in a way that allows them to be cleaned properly.


If you have questions about your wisdom teeth, contact your San Francisco dentist to set up a consultation. We can have a look at the current state of things and make a recommendation about whether the teeth should be removed. And if it does prove necessary, Dr. Walley can remove them safely and comfortably.