Tooth Extractions

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed and if I do, why?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. This generally occurs between the ages of 17 and 25. The specific conditions of your wisdom teeth and the role they play in your total oral health can be evaluated using a special x-ray known as Panoramic X-ray. The decision to keep or have wisdom teeth removed before they become symptomatic is specific to each patient. Your options will be discussed so that you can make an informed decision that will meet your preferences and desires.

Removal of wisdom teeth is generally recommended if there is inadequate room for them to erupt completely into a normal position. Mal-positioned wisdom teeth create the potential for future problems, such as permanent damage to adjacent teeth and surrounding bone, in addition to recurrent infections and discomfort.

As wisdom teeth grow, their roots become longer and closer to major structures in your jaw such as nerves and sinuses, as seen in the x-ray below. Unfortunately, no one can predict when third molar complications might occur, but if they do, the circumstances can be much more uncomfortable and the teeth more difficult to treat.

In this example, this 31 year old patient complained of discomfort due to food impaction in the space between the bottom left wisdom tooth and the tooth in front of it. The roots of both lower wisdom teeth have grown close to the nerve that provides sensation to the lower jaw including the lower lip. This makes removal of the wisdom teeth more complicated. In this situation early detection and removal before complete development of the roots would have provided a less risky and complicated procedure.