Wisdom teeth, also known as ‘third molars’, are the last teeth to grow in, usually making their initial appearance between the ages of 17 and 25. They are teeth that develop in the very back of your mouth and will usually require extraction. Wisdom teeth that are not removed can become problematic, often becoming impacted, due to a lack of space in your jaw or the angle at which the teeth grow in.
If wisdom teeth become impacted, we may recommend extraction in order to avoid complications and potential problems, such as swelling, tenderness at the gum line, or extreme pain caused by infection. Wisdom teeth that become impacted can be very difficult to clean and are at risk for tooth decay, chronic infections and, in some instances, gum disease.
Will You Need Extraction?
Knowing whether or not you will require your wisdom teeth removed will depend on a few factors. A panoramic X-ray is typically used to determine if your wisdom teeth will require extraction. If your dentist recommends that your wisdom teeth need to be removed, ideally you should begin the procedure as soon as possible, to avoid any further complications.
Because wisdom teeth are not normally fully developed until your mid-twenties, we will typically recommend extraction at a younger age, which makes the procedure much easier, with less recovery time needed. The roots of wisdom teeth may not be fully formed and the bone surrounding these teeth is usually less dense.
How Wisdom Teeth are Removed
There are several steps involved in removing wisdom teeth. First, we will numb the entire area of the affected tooth with a local anesthetic. We may also use additional medication to safely sedate you during the extraction, particularly among patients that feel anxiety or nervousness with this procedure. Impacted wisdom teeth can sometimes become embedded in your jaw bone. In these cases, we will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to complete the extraction.
In an effort to minimize the amount of bone removed, wisdom teeth may require “sectioning,” removing the tooth in 2 or more pieces, through a small opening in the bone.