Wisdom teeth

What are wisdom teeth?

We often refer to third molars as wisdom teeth. They are usually the last teeth to develop and are located in the back of the mouth, behind your second molars.  Third molars commonly develop between the middle teenage years and early twenties, a time traditionally associated with the onset of maturity and the “attainment of wisdom.”

Why should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

With an oral examination and full-mouth x-ray, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon can evaluate the position of your wisdom teeth and predict any present or future problems. If there is not enough room in your mouth for third molars to fully erupt, several problems can occur.

What problems can my wisdom teeth cause?

Some of the problems that may occur if you chose not to remove your wisdom teeth include: infection, cyst formation, crowding and/or damage to adjacent teeth.  Furthermore, should you wait to remove them in your 30’s or 40’s, the post-operative course can be prolonged and complication rates are higher. Treating these complications is often more difficult and less predictable than with patients in their teens or early twenties. Impacted wisdom teeth should be removed before their roots are fully developed. In this case, the jaw is not big enough to accommodate the wisdom teeth which may push against the adjacent teeth, causing pain or important damage.

Is it best to remove all four wisdom teeth at the same time?

It is recommended to extract all four in the same session due to:

Post-operative pain and swelling is similar for 2 or 4 extracted teeth
– Analgesics, antibiotics (and in some cases sedatives) must be taken each time you have surgery
– The procedure lasts less than 1-hour and home recovery is between 2 and 4 days

How are wisdom teeth removed?

On the day of your procedure, you will take medication to help minimize post-operative pain, swelling and to avoid infection. Often, wisdom teeth removal is performed under sedation. These options will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed.  The procedure itself will last between 30 and 60 minutes. Modern medicine as well as sterilization and infection control techniques allow patients to undergo wisdom tooth removal so as to promote rapid healing and minimal post-operative discomfort.

5 things you should know about having your wisdom teeth removed