Wisdom teeth are a set of molars that appear in the back of the upper and lower jaws in your late teens or early twenties. If wisdom teeth grow in completely and in correct alignment they can be used just like any other teeth. However, there is often inadequate space in the back of the jaw for wisdom teeth to completely appear – leading to disease.
Most people do not have enough room in their mouth for wisdom teeth to grow in completely. When this occurs, wisdom teeth are considered to be impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can remain trapped under the tissues or eventually break partially through the gums.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause many problems, including:
When active disease develops, the wisdom teeth should be removed. This is best determined by an examination by one of our experienced specialists.
Not all wisdom teeth with active disease will be painful. Often symptoms do not appear until the disease is fairly advanced.
Even wisdom teeth that have grown in completely can develop problems. Wisdom teeth are often difficult to clean, leading to cavities and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a low-grade infection of the gums caused by bacteria that grow in the deep crevices around wisdom teeth. Periodontal disease can lead to inflammation and bone loss around your wisdom teeth over time. This infection can then spread from the wisdom teeth to the other surrounding teeth in your mouth.
Wisdom teeth with active disease or with a significant risk of future disease should be removed.
Wisdom teeth are easier to remove in teens and young adults since the roots have not fully formed and the bone is softer. This shortens healing time and reduces the risk of damage to nearby nerves or other structures. Removal of wisdom teeth in adults can become more difficult, with slower recovery and increased postoperative symptoms compared to younger patients.
Wisdom teeth don’t always need to be removed. Wisdom teeth that grow in completely, are cleanable, and can be used without trauma to the cheeks or tongue, can be retained. Many wisdom teeth develop problems over time and periodic evaluation of any retained wisdom teeth is necessary to detect future disease.
At your consultation you should expect to discuss your medical history, any medications you take, and undergo a brief health review. Your surgeon will perform a physical exam. X-rays are taken to evaluate the position of each wisdom tooth in the jaws. We take time to help you understand any potential problems associated with your wisdom teeth, any recommended treatment, and answer any questions you may have.
Each surgery takes place in a private surgical suite at one of our four locations. This comfortable, personalized setting allows for safe and efficient treatment. All surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize your comfort. In most cases procedures are performed under local anesthesia, nitrous oxide, or intravenous sedation. Please see our anesthesia options.
Most patients will need a few days off work or school to recover. You will need to eat softer foods and avoid strenuous activities – including team sports. It is very important to keep your mouth clean to avoid infection. Learn more about our aftercare instructions.