Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure to remove one or more wisdom teeth the four permanent adult teeth located at the back corners of your mouth on the top and bottom. If a wisdom tooth doesn't have room to grow (impacted wisdom tooth), resulting in pain, infection or other dental problems, you'll likely need to have it pulled. In some cases wisdom tooth extraction is recommended even if impacted teeth aren't causing problems, as a preventive measure against potential future problems.
Problems with impacted wisdom teethWisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last permanent teeth to appear (erupt) in the mouth. These teeth usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25. Some people never develop wisdom teeth. For others, wisdom teeth erupt normally just as their other molars did and cause no problems.
Many people, however, develop impacted wisdom teeth teeth that don't have enough room to erupt into the mouth or grow normally. Impacted wisdom teeth may erupt only partially or not at all.
An impacted wisdom tooth may
- Grow at an angle toward the next tooth (second molar)
- Grow at an angle toward the back of the mouth
- Grow at a right angle to the other teeth, as if the wisdom tooth is "lying down" within the jawbone
You'll likely need your impacted wisdom tooth pulled if it results in problems such as:
- Damage to an adjacent tooth
- Development of a fluid-filled sac (cyst) around the wisdom tooth
- Damage to surrounding bone
- Complications with orthodontic treatments to straighten other teeth
- Preventing future dental problems
Here's the rationale for preventive treatment
- It's difficult to predict future problems with impacted wisdom teeth.
- Symptom-free wisdom teeth could still harbor disease.
- Having your wisdom teeth makes you vulnerable to gum disease and tooth cavities.
- Removing impacted teeth lowers the risk of potential problems.
- Serious complications rarely happen in younger adults.
- Older adults may experience difficulty with surgery and complications after surgery.
As with any dental procedure, our dentist will want to initially conduct a thorough examination of the wisdom and surrounding teeth. Panoramic or digital X-rays will be taken in order for your dentist to evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and determine if a current problem exists, or the likelihood of any potential future problems. The X-rays can also expose additional risk factors, such as deterioration or decay of nearby teeth. Early evaluation and treatment (typically in the mid-teen years) is recommended in order to identify potential problems and to improve the results for patients requiring wisdom teeth extractions. Only after a thorough examination can our dentist provide you with the best options for your particular case.
Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, and most of them go very well, take less than an hour, and can be done right in our office. The surgery does not require an overnight stay, and you will be released with post-operative instructions and medication (if necessary), to help manage any swelling or discomfort.