CHOC Children's
ORAL HEALTH :: Dental Procedures

Wisdom Teeth Extraction

What are wisdom teeth?

Also called third molars, wisdom teeth usually make their first appearance in young adults between the ages of 15 to 25. Usually, an initial evaluation of the wisdom teeth should be performed between the ages of 16 and 19. Because most mouths are too small for these four additional molars, an extraction (removal) procedure is often necessary.

When should wisdom teeth be removed?

Removal of wisdom teeth is important when the teeth have no room in the mouth to grow. The following symptoms may indicate that the wisdom teeth have erupted and surfaced, and should be removed before they become impacted. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • pain
  • infection in the mouth
  • facial swelling
  • swelling of the gumline in the back of the mouth

Most oral health specialists will recommend removal of the wisdom teeth before painful symptoms arise and it is clear that there will be no room for them to come in—usually around the age of 16 to 18 years of age. It is good to remove them early to prevent impactions of the teeth that can destroy the second molar, form cysts or become infected. According to the American Academy of General Dentistry, third molar impaction is the most prevalent medical developmental disorder.

What problems are often associated with impacted third molars?

Some problems associated with impacted third molars include the following:

  • bacteria and plaque build-up
  • cysts development (a fluid-filled sac)
  • tumor development
  • infection
  • jaw and gum disease

What is involved in the extraction procedure?

Wisdom tooth extraction surgery involves removing the gum tissue that presides over the tooth, gently detaching the connective tissue between the tooth and the bone, removing the tooth, and suturing the opening in the gumline.

Most wisdom teeth extractions are performed in the dentist's office under local anesthesia. Patients who are particularly anxious should consult their dentist or oral surgeon about supplements to local anesthesia or alternative forms of anesthesia.

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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