An average human mouth has enough room to accommodate around 28 teeth, yet most people are born with 32 permanent teeth. The odd men out, so to speak, are the sizable third molars, otherwise known as the wisdom teeth because they are the last to erupt, doing so at “the age of wisdom.”
The wisdom teeth face a significant risk of becoming impacted because the human jaw is too small to contain them.
When the wisdom teeth become impacted, a host of problems can occur. Impacted wisdom teeth are more likely to develop cysts or abscesses, and it’s harder to keep the rear of the mouth clean, especially if the wisdom teeth are partially erupted. This can lead to infection. Neighboring teeth can be damaged as the wisdom teeth continue to try to push through the gums, and that process may also knock the other teeth out of alignment, undoing years of orthodontic work.
Although the wisdom teeth were essential to ancient human ancestors, who had to subsist on a much rougher diet and often lost other teeth, these teeth are no longer as vital to modern humans.
Some patients’ wisdom teeth may erupt into the proper positions with no difficulty, but those cases are quite rare. Most people prefer to have their wisdom teeth removed as a precaution, before those teeth can cause any trouble.
Before you have your wisdom teeth extracted, our oral surgeon will examine the mouth and take x-rays to locate the teeth and determine whether they are impacted.
Wisdom teeth extraction is a routine oral surgery procedure, and it is generally performed in our office. Patients may opt for only local anesthesia during the procedure, although many prefer to be sedated. The oral surgeon can thoroughly educate you on your options for anesthesia.
The oral surgeon will complete the extraction procedure in just a few hours for most patients, except those with more complex cases. We recommend that patients have the wisdom teeth removed before age 25. The roots are easier to dislodge in younger patients, who also recover more quickly.
If you have any questions about wisdom teeth extraction or want to discuss the pros and cons of the procedure, call our office to schedule a consultation with one of our oral surgeons.