Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars. These molars erupt sometime during the late teens or early twenties. However, not all people will get wisdom teeth. Your dentist can tell if you have them through an x-ray.

What problems can occur with wisdom teeth?

Unfortunately, wisdom teeth often erupt misaligned. They can come in to the mouth horizontally or angled toward (or away from) the second molars. This misalignment can cause problems for adjacent teeth, pain in the jawbone and nearby nerves, swelling, stiffness, and more. You should contact your dentist if you experience any of these symptoms.

It is also possible for a wisdom tooth to be impacted, which means that it does not fully erupt. The tooth may be encapsulated by soft tissue or the jawbone. This causes an opening in the gums, allowing bacteria to enter, and leading to an infection.

What can I expect from wisdom teeth removal?

If your wisdom teeth are impacted or otherwise causing any issues, you may need to have surgery to have them removed. Your dentist can help you determine if this is necessary, and if it’s something that can be done in the office or will need to be referred out to an oral surgeon.

If the wisdom tooth is fully erupted, it can simply be pulled. However, if it is impacted, it may need to be removed in parts. AN incision is made in the gum, and then small portions of the bone are removed.

Younger patients have an easier time with wisdom teeth removal, but older patients sometimes experience greater pain levels and longer healing times. This is because younger patients have less developed roots.

Some patients develop a dry socket following wisdom teeth removal, or other types of oral surgery. It occurs when the blood clot inside the now empty socket dissolves or becomes dislodged. Only two to five percent of patients will experience it, but you should contact your dentist if you experience intense pain, bad breath, or a bad taste in your mouth following surgery.