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Home > Dental Conditions > Wisdom Teeth > When It’s Wise to Remove Wisdom Teeth
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When It’s Wise to Remove Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth usually require surgical removal.

Wisdom teeth, which usually come in about the time of "adulthood" (17-22 years of age), got their name because at this age, teenagers should've gotten more wisdom. Usually it is the parents and teachers who gain the wisdom at this age. Often these teeth are recommended for tooth removal due to a lack of space. There are usually four third molars.

The wisdom teeth, like all teeth, can perform a worthwhile service in chewing and digestion of food. However, at times they do not fit in the mouth. Sometimes the size of the wisdom teeth are much too large for the jaw. They may come in ectopic (crooked), partially erupt (come in half way), or get caught under the bone or adjacent teeth (becoming impacted) and never come in. When this happens, it can lead to other more serious problems.

Removal of wisdom teeth is often necessary when the following occur:

  • Wisdom teeth only partially erupt. Pockets form around these teeth and provide an area where bacteria can enter. This can lead to infection. Such an infection is not only painful but can also cause swelling and general illness.
  • Impacted wisdom teeth form without adequate room. This development can place a tremendous amount of pressure on the adjacent healthy teeth and can cause damage to them.
  • A cyst can form in the area around the wisdom teeth. A lesion like this can destroy any adjacent teeth, their roots and the bone holding healthy teeth.

Everyone should have their wisdom teeth evaluated by the mid to late teens. Benefits of removal of wisdom teeth at an early age include: less risk to surrounding nerves and bone since tooth roots are not fully developed, and better healing as a young adult, versus oral surgery later in adult life. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a specialist in surgical removal of wisdom teeth, usually performs the surgery.

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