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Wisdom Teeth Extraction

What are wisdom teeth?

Also called third molars, wisdom teeth usually first appear in young adults between the ages of 17 to 21. Because most mouths are too small for 4 more teeth, they often need to be removed. This is called an extraction. It sometimes needs to be done as soon as they erupt.

When should wisdom teeth be removed?

These symptoms may mean that the wisdom teeth have erupted or broken through the surface, and should be removed before they cause more serious problems.

  • Pain

  • Infection in the mouth

  • Facial swelling

  • Swelling of the gumline in the back of the mouth around the wisdom tooth

The wisdom teeth may be partially erupted. That means the teeth have partially surfaced and have no room in the mouth to come in completely.

Completely impacted teeth have not come through the gum and may never erupt into the mouth. If they are not causing problems or seen as a potential problem, then many dentists will opt to watch them over time. If the wisdom teeth are causing problems or likely to cause problems, most oral health specialists will advise an immediate removal of the wisdom teeth. Early removal will help to prevent problems, such as an impacted tooth that causes the roots of the second molar to resorb.

What problems are often linked to impacted third molars?

  • Bacteria and plaque buildup if the molars are partially erupted

  • Cysts development (a fluid-filled sac)

  • Tumor development

  • Infection

  • Jaw and gum disease

  • Decay or root resorption of the adjacent tooth 

How are wisdom teeth removed?

To remove the wisdom teeth, your dentist will make an incision through the gum tissue over the tooth. He or she will gently detach the connective tissue between the tooth and the bone. The tooth is then removed and the opening in the gum is stitched closed. Sometimes, some of the bone surrounding the tooth must be removed. The tooth may need to be cut into sections to allow removal.  

Online Medical Reviewer: Eakle, W. Stephan, DDS
Online Medical Reviewer: Kapner, Michael, DDS
Date Last Reviewed: 9/25/2015
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