In this article, we want to discuss the important, and often controversial, topic of wisdom teeth (also called third molar) extraction.

A Quick Backstory

Wisdom teeth get their name by being the teeth to come in during the time when you gain maturity or “wisdom.” Usually, the age range for their eruption is 17-21.

Anthropologists think these third molars evolved to help early humans eat their rough diet of leaves, nuts, roots, and raw meats. However, modern diets of softer foods, as well as technological “breakthroughs” like forks and knives, have rendered them functionless for modern living.

The Potential for Trouble

The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that about 85% of wisdom teeth will eventually need to be removed.

An image that shows how a wisdom tooth can erupt.

For the majority of Americans, wisdom teeth do not erupt in a clean, healthy way.

Because they erupt well after the rest of the permanent teeth come in, third molars are notorious for causing unwanted movement in teeth, gums, and jaw structure. Additionally, they most often do not erupt cleanly; when they form, they are “impacted” – or blocked – by surrounding teeth. This leads to partial eruptions or eruptions at abnormal angles. If this occurs, you’ll most likely feel it in the form of symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Repeated infection of soft tissue behind the lower last tooth
  • Cysts (fluid-filled sacs)
  • Tumors
  • Damage to nearby teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Extensive tooth decay

The Extraction Process

The best time to remove wisdom teeth is before they erupt and their roots fully form. For most people, this means some time between the ages of 15-20. Generally speaking, the older a person is, the lengthier the recovery and the higher the complication risk.

The procedure itself calls for general anesthesia if multiple teeth are being removed. The dentist will open the gum tissue over the tooth and take out any bone that is covering the tooth. He or she will then separate the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone and remove it. After the removal, the tissue is stitched back together.

In most cases, the recovery period lasts only a few days. Patients may be prescribed painkillers, be restricted to soft-food diets, and have their physical activity reduced as the incisions heal.

Our Wisdom Tooth Pledge

At our office, we believe that everyone’s mouth is unique. With our x-ray technology and decades of experience, we know early on if wisdom teeth are on an impacted path. If you are one of the lucky few who will have healthy, clean-erupting wisdom teeth, we won’t recommend an extraction procedure. However, the majority of our patients will need an extraction. Our office is equipped with the most advanced anesthesia and extraction technologies and we’ll strive to make your recovery as fast and as pain-free as possible.

Please feel free to contact our office if you’d like more information on wisdom teeth or if you’d like to schedule an extraction procedure.