Wisdom Teeth, Extractions, and Impactions


Wisdom Teeth Extractions Wisdom teeth, or third molars are the last permanent teeth to form and move into the mouth. Wisdom teeth will usually emerge at around 16 to 18 years of age and be fully developed by the age of 22 or 23. This was assumed to be the "age of wisdom", which is where the term wisdom teeth originated.

There are usually four wisdom teeth, one in each rear corner of the mouth. If the jaw bone is long enough, the wisdom teeth will grow in with no resultant problems.

Problems Caused by Impacted Wisdom Teeth:
If the jawbone is not long enough, the wisdom teeth will not have enough room to erupt and will become trapped inside the jawbone. In this case, the wisdom teeth have become impacted.

Partially erupted teeth are considered to be impacted. Naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth can work their way down to the impacted wisdom teeth, frequently causing infection in the surrounding gums and bone. Repeated soreness around the wisdom teeth is often mistaken as an effort of the wisdom teeth to erupt. This soreness, however, could be a sign of infection. Surrounding bone, tooth roots and adjacent teeth may be harmed if left untreated.


The constant pressure from impacted wisdom teeth can also damage adjacent teeth. You may not feel anything until significant damage has occurred. This pressure may also push other teeth out of line, possibly creating a need for orthodontic treatment.

Even if you have no symptoms now, headaches, earaches, pain in the face, neck, throat and upper and lower teeth can occur if impacted wisdom teeth are not removed. Cysts can also develop around impacted wisdom teeth. The sac or growth follicle that surrounds the developing wisdom teeth may remain when the teeth are impacted. This sac can fill with fluid and become cystic, destroying bone surrounding adjacent molars. In rare instances, if the cyst is not treated, a tumor may develop and more extensive procedures may be required for removal.

Advantages to Early Removal of Wisdom Teeth
Removing impacted wisdom teeth early is usually a less involved procedure than waiting until complications and pain develop. It is best to remove the teeth before the roots are fully formed. As you age, the roots will thicken and become more firmly anchored to the jawbone. If you wait until your wisdom teeth cause you trouble, chances of risks and complications are higher, and recovery may not proceed as smoothly as when they are removed electively.


All extractions are performed under anesthesia that is appropriate for the patient in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere.


The removal of damaged, infected, or malposed (in the wrong position) teeth falls into the oral surgeons area of expertise. The removal of these teeth and the subsequent treatment of the bone and gum tissue is called dental-alveolar surgery.

Impacted Teeth

Not all impacted teeth are wisdom teeth. Often cuspids and bicuspids are impacted. At times these teeth will need to be exposed by the oral surgeon and brought into position by the orthodontist.