In most people, the third set of molars, generally called “wisdom teeth,” start coming in around age 17-25. Unfortunately, the arrival of these teeth is often far from trouble-free. As such, the removal of one or more third molars is a relatively common procedure, performed on about 5 million patients every year. After a thorough examination and diagnostic tests such as x-rays or a CT scan, you may be told that you should have your wisdom teeth extracted.
Some reasons your dentist may recommend removal of wisdom teeth:
- Your jaw may be too small to accommodate all your teeth, leading to excessive crowding and the chance that your wisdom teeth will be unable to emerge from the gums, potentially harming adjacent bone or teeth
- Your wisdom teeth may be coming in at a crooked orientation, which can damage other teeth or structures in the jaw, and cause bite problems
- If your wisdom tooth does not fully emerge from the gums, it can increase risk of infection
- A cyst may develop around the unerupted wisdom tooth, which can cause infection and injury to the adjacent bone or nerve tissue
Wisdom tooth extraction is an in-office procedure performed by a dentist or an oral surgeon. It's quite possible to have the treatment done with only a local anesthetic to keep you from experiencing any pain. If multiple teeth are being extracted at one time, however, general anesthetic may be administered. When you are appropriately anesthetized, the tooth itself will be gently removed. When extraction is complete, you may need to have the site sutured (stitched) to aid healing. After the procedure is over, you will rest for a short time before going home. Recovery generally lasts only a few days. During this time, you should rest to encourage healing and take any pain medication as prescribed.