The wisdom teeth are the final four teeth to erupt from the gums – usually sometime between age 17 and 25. Ideally, the teeth emerge without complication. But according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, as many as 9 in 10 Americans have at least one wisdom tooth that is impacted. Even if the teeth all erupt normally, they may cause overcrowding or grow in at an angle that can be problematic in the future. For that reason, many people elect to have their wisdom teeth removed to prevent infection, crowding, and other complications.
Did you know…
Wisdom teeth may need to be removed even if they have not yet caused any problems. Even wisdom teeth that erupt normally may still be vulnerable to decay over time. Because of the location of wisdom teeth at the back of the mouth, many patients find it difficult to clean and floss all surfaces of the teeth each day. Although complications may not appear immediately, wisdom teeth may begin causing problems in middle to late adulthood.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need my wisdom teeth removed?
You may need your wisdom teeth removed if you have one or more impacted wisdom teeth or if you are having difficulty adequately cleaning those that have emerged. It is recommended that all young adults be evaluated by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. A consultation and x-ray can reveal impaction, damage to neighboring teeth, signs of decay, gum disease, or perceived complications with future wisdom tooth eruption.
What should I expect during a wisdom teeth removal?
Your wisdom teeth removal will likely be performed in your oral surgeon’s office. Most removals take only minutes to perform, but you’ll be under anesthesia or sedation to prevent discomfort. Once the teeth are removed, the gums are sutured shut. Keep in mind that you will need a responsible driver to take you home following the extraction, as it will not be safe for you to drive after being heavily sedated.
Will I need to follow any special instructions following my wisdom teeth removal procedure?
Yes. You’ll need to keep the extraction site clean and free of debris for the first couple of weeks after the wisdom teeth removal. You’ll also need to take all medications exactly as prescribed by your surgeon. Avoid sucking through a straw for the first several days after surgery, and notify your surgeon if you experience fever or discomfort that worsens after a few days.