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Wisdom Teeth FAQ’s

Why are the third molars called “wisdom teeth”?

Third molars, which are commonly called “wisdom teeth” are the last adult teeth to erupt in the

mouth. These are the most posterior teeth and typically erupt between the ages of 17 to 25. Third

molars have adopted the name “wisdom teeth” because they appear during adulthood when a person matures and becomes “wiser”.  All of the other permanent teeth erupt during childhood.  

Do I have wisdom teeth?

There is a significant variation in the general population regarding the development of wisdom teeth. Some people have all four, whereas others may develop only one, or none at all. These are all variations of normal and can be detected during dental check-ups clinically and radiographically.  

Do my wisdom teeth need to be extracted?

If your third molars are healthy and erupt properly in-line with the rest of your teeth, they do not

need to be removed.  However, It is important that you can reach these areas to keep the teeth clean and the gums healthy.  Wisdom teeth that develop extensive decay or gum disease should be extracted.

Third molars that are erupting at an angle, tilted, or “coming in sideways” will need to be

extracted.  These angled teeth can be seen on an x-ray and could cause crowding and damage to adjacent teeth.  They will not function properly because they are misaligned and can be harmful to the second molar.

Why are my wisdom teeth hurting?

The most common cause of wisdom tooth pain is due to pericoronitis, which is the inflammation

of gingival tissue around the tooth.  When teeth erupt, tissue overlying the tooth, called an operculum, can create a pocket that traps bacteria, causing this inflammation.  It is important that you visit the dentist if you are having chronic pain around your gum tissues because this can lead to a more serious infection. Treatment for pericoronitis includes extraction of the offending tooth or removal of the inflamed tissue.  If the tissue is infected, antibiotics can be prescribed.  Sometimes pericoronitis is aggravated by an opposing tooth that is pinching the inflamed tissue.  Removal of the opposing tooth can help alleviate the pressure on the irritated operculum.

Erupted vs. Impacted wisdom teeth extraction

Wisdom teeth that have erupted are fully visible in the mouth.  Extraction of an erupted wisdom

tooth is straight-forward and similar to any other type of tooth extraction.  This type of procedure can be performed under local anesthesia (just like a regular filling).

Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that have not yet erupted, or have only partially erupted.  Extraction of these teeth is a more involved procedure because an incision will be made in the gum tissue to expose the bone and the underlying tooth. The tooth may need to be sectioned and removed in smaller pieces. This type of surgery is usually under IV sedation and performed by an oral surgeon.  

When is the best time to have my third molars extracted?

Every patient is unique in their development.  Regular dental check-ups will help to determine the best time to have your wisdom teeth extracted.  Early detection will determine if the third molars are misaligned and need to be addressed before they start affecting other teeth.  If you have any questions regarding the health of your wisdom teeth, don’t hesitate to visit us at Go Dental - Valencia Dentist.