Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are molars found in the back of your mouth.  They are considered 3rd molars. These teeth are numbered #1, 16,17 and 32 in the mouth.  They typically appear in a young person’s later teens or twenties but may be impacted.  Impacted just means they fail to erupt because of lack of room in the mouth or they may be at the wrong angle.

If a wisdom tooth is impacted, it often needs to be removed.  If it is not removed, patients may develop tenderness in the gums, swelling, or even severe pain. If the wisdom teeth are partially or fully erupted, they can still be quite difficult to clean and are also susceptible to tooth decay, reoccurring infections, and even gum disease.

Each patient's mouth is unique. A panoramic X-ray is usually used to help decide whether your wisdom teeth will need to be removed.  If it is recommended to have your wisdom teeth removed, it is better to have them removed sooner rather than later.

Wisdom teeth are often extracted in the late teens or around college age because there is a better chance that the tooth's roots haven’t completely developed and the surrounding bone is much less dense. These factors can make removal simpler, and also the recovery time is often shorter.

In order to remove a wisdom tooth, your dentist first numbs the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Certain medications can be used in addition to sedate you during the procedure. If the wisdom tooth is impacted it will be under the gums and surrounded by the jaw bone, so the dentist will want to remove a portion of the overlying bone to remove the tooth. In order to decrease the amount of bone that is removed, the dentist will often “section” your tooth and then each piece is removed through a small area in the bone.

After extraction you will need time to heal.  Healing times vary in relation to how difficult the extraction procedure was. Your dentist will inform you about expectations and will give instructions for a successful, efficient and comfortable healing.