Oral Surgery

The Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop and are located in the very back of the upper and lower jaws.

Wisdom teeth begin developing around the age of nine and typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop and are located in the very back of the upper and lower jaws. Many times, wisdom teeth are discovered upon routine X-ray examination.

 Impacted Wisdom Teeth

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Impacted means the teeth are trapped in the jawbone or gum tissue. Often, a wisdom tooth that appears impacted in the early teens may erupt into a normal position by the late teens. This depends upon the space available for eruption. If space is not available, the tooth may remain impacted. Contrary to common belief, erupting or impacted wisdom teeth do not cause crowding of other teeth.

Removing Wisdom Teeth

The removal of wisdom teeth is the most common oral surgical procedure performed in this country today, and dental professionals agree that a decline in this procedure is not likely in the near future.

Wisdom teeth are usually recommended for removal if they become routinely infected or diseased or are causing other problems. If a wisdom tooth becomes infected while it is erupting, it can be treated and might never become infected again. If it becomes infected more than once, removal of that individual tooth might be appropriate treatment. It would not be necessarily appropriate to remove all the wisdom teeth because of one infected wisdom tooth. Ask your dentist why he or she is recommending extraction of the wisdom teeth, particularly if the problem you are experiencing is not affecting all the wisdom teeth.

When teeth are extracted to prevent possible future problems, the extractions are considered preventive. In this case, since the extraction would be considered elective, it may not be covered. Be sure to check with your dental benefits carrier.

Wisdom Teeth Can Be Helpful: Every tooth you have is important to you. If you lose one or more of your back teeth, a wisdom tooth can often be used for bridgework that replaces the teeth you lost.

Questions to Ask Your Dentist or Oral Surgeon

Are my wisdom teeth unerupted? Could they possibly erupt later?

If my wisdom tooth gets infected while it is erupting, does it have to be removed?

If my wisdom teeth are impacted, do they have to be removed?

Can’t these teeth be watched, and, if they ever become a problem, remove them at that time?

What are the risks and benefits of not removing the wisdom teeth?

If I do need surgery, would I be awake or asleep during the procedure? Which is the safest way for me?

How much work/school will I miss?