Wisdom Teeth

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Wisdom Teeth Extractions

Third molars, commonly referred to as wisdom teeth, are usually the last four teeth to erupt in the mouth, typically making their appearance between the ages of 17 to 25. The reason they’re called wisdom teeth is because around the same time they erupt is also associated with becoming an adult or 'wiser'.

In most cases, there isn't enough space in the jaw does not allow the wisdom teeth to erupt properly. When the jaw is too small the teeth becomes impacted, or stuck, in an undesirable and potentially harmful position. If these types of wisdom teeth are not removed they can cause pericoronitis (gum inflammation), life threatening infections, damage to adjacent teeth, cysts, and possibly tumors

Reasons to extract wisdom teeth

While not all wisdom teeth require removal, wisdom teeth extractions are most often performed because of an active problem such as pain, swelling, decay or infection, or as a preventative measure to avoid serious problems in the future. If impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is present, and left untreated, a number of potentially harmful outcomes can occur, including:

  • Damage to nearby teeth: Second molars (the teeth directly in front of the wisdom teeth) can be adversely affected by impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in tooth decay (cavities), periodontal disease (gum disease) and possible bone loss.
  • Disease: Although uncommon, cysts and tumors can occur in the areas surrounding impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Infection: Bacteria and food can become trapped under the gum tissue, resulting in an infection. The infection can cause considerable pain and even be life threatening in some instances.
  • Tooth Crowding: It has been theorized that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on other teeth and cause them to become misaligned (crowded or twisted). This theory isn’t universally accepted by all dental professionals, and it has never been validated by any scientific studies.

Wisdom teeth examination

The process starts with an examination by your dentist with special X-rays to evaluate the position of your wisdom teeth and ascertain if there is a current or potential future problem with your wisdom teeth. Ideally this evaluation of wisdom teeth should be done BEFORE they are fully developed in the early teenage years (13-15). Your dentist will discuss possible risks and suggest either removal of the wisdom teeth or monitoring their development to ensure no problems occur. 

What does the removal of wisdom teeth involve?

Wisdom teeth removal is an incredibly common procedure. It is always performed with local anesthesia (freezing) to ensure you will not feel pain during the procedure. If you are particularly anxious regarding the treatment we offer a variety of sedation services including oral sedation, nitrous sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation. Please go to the Sedation (Anxiety) page for more information about the above techniques.

The wisdom teeth will be removed carefully to reduce complications and promote ideal healing. You will be given post-operative instructions, and medication to help manage swelling or discomfort.