Wisdom teeth are the very last set of molars we get, emerging when we’re in our late teens or early twenties. Also known as third molars, wisdom teeth erupt on both sides of the upper and lower jaw. Sometimes wisdom teeth erupt without any issues, but often they don’t have sufficient room and they cause pain, crowding, and headaches. Because of their location in the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth are more prone to cavities and gum disease, so extraction is recommended.
Wisdom teeth are often impacted or partially impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth does not emerge from the gums at all; instead, it is stuck in the jaw, causing a great deal of discomfort. Partially impacted wisdom teeth erupt at an angle. Not only is this painful, it also places pressure on adjacent teeth and makes it easy for bacteria and food particles to become trapped between the tooth and the gum tissue. Untreated impacted wisdom teeth are at high risk of infection and they can also cause long-term jaw problems and chronic headaches.
During your wisdom tooth extraction procedure, your wisdom teeth and the tissue surrounding them will be numbed with local anesthesia, so you will not feel any pain while we work. For more complicated cases, like impacted wisdom teeth or for patients with dental anxiety, we can provide you with sedation options to help you feel comfortable. If your wisdom teeth have fully erupted, a simple tooth extraction is performed using a tool called an elevator to loosen the teeth and forceps to remove them. The removal of impacted wisdom teeth is a minor surgical procedure that requires small incisions in the soft tissue and sometimes the removal of a portion of the jawbone in order to access and remove the teeth.
Frequently asked questions about wisdom tooth extraction
What happens if you never get your wisdom teeth pulled out?
There are some patients who have sufficient room in their jaws to keep their wisdom teeth. When this is the case, it’s important to pay extra attention to these teeth when brushing and flossing, as their location at the back of the mouth makes them more prone to plaque, tartar, and cavities. On the other hand, if your wisdom teeth are fully or partially impacted, they should be removed promptly to prevent infection, cysts, bone damage, and pain.
At what age do you get wisdom teeth?
There are always outliers, but generally speaking most people get their wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 25.
How do you know if your wisdom teeth are coming in?
The most common sign that your wisdom teeth are coming in is discomfort – your gums will be red, swollen, and tender. You may also experience jaw pain. Partially impacted wisdom teeth can cause bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Is it better to get all four wisdom teeth out at once?
Yes, it’s advisable that you get all of your wisdom teeth removed in the same appointment. This minimizes the number of times you need sedation or anesthesia and the amount of time needed for recovery. It’s also less expensive to have all of your wisdom teeth removed at once.
How painful is wisdom teeth removal?
Wisdom teeth removal isn’t painful at all because your mouth will be numbed before we start any work. If you have a simple extraction, you can expect to have some discomfort for up to a week after your procedure, while a surgical extraction involving impacted wisdom teeth may cause discomfort and swelling for one or two weeks.