Wisdom teeth are the third last permanent molars. Many people have two upper wisdom teeth and two lower wisdom teeth, but some people don’t have any or have less than four. They are given the name "wisdom teeth” because they frequently erupt between the ages of 16-21, known as "the age of wisdom". A wisdom tooth is impacted when it is unable to fully erupt due to the neighboring tooth or the surrounding bone and gum.
When wisdom teeth are improperly erupted they can cause major bacteria buildups and sometimes can cause decay even in neighboring teeth. There are also more serious problems like cysts or tumors forming around the impacted tooth. This can lead to the destruction of surrounding jawbone and neighboring teeth.
At your initial check up your dentist will examine your mouth and x-rays to determine the position and condition of your wisdom teeth. To prevent the problems caused by wisdom teeth, it is best advised to remove them early. During teenage years, the roots have not fully formed and firmly embedded into the jawbone, so this is the best time to have them removed. Teenagers will also heal more easily and quickly.
Removing wisdom teeth is a minor surgical procedure. The procedure can be done with local anesthesia or general anesthesia. The type will be determined by the surgeon based on each patient’s individual needs. The surgery involves lifting the gums to uncover the wisdom tooth and bone. Sometimes the tooth needs to be removed in sections. The gums are then stitched back up.
After the surgery, some minor bleeding can be expected. This can be controlled by biting on gauze for about a half hour. Facial discoloration and bruising will also occur, increasing for the first 72 hours and then subsiding after. You may not be able to open your mouth as wide for the first few days. After surgery, painkillers, antibiotics and an antiseptic mouthwash are typically prescribed. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping a soft diet for the first few days after surgery will also be advised.