Wisdom teeth


Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When wisdom teeth align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen.


Reasons why people remove their wisdom teeth

Most people have their wisdom tooth removed for one of these reasons:

  • Your wisdom tooth are impacted. Because they're so far back in your mouth, wisdom teeth may not come in normally. They can be trapped in your jawbone or gums, which can be painful.
  • Your wisdom tooth come in at the wrong angle. They may press against your other teeth.
  • Your mouth isn’t big enough. Your jaw has no room for an extra set of molars.
  • Your wisdom tooth have caused cavities, cysts or gum infection. You may not be able to reach your wisdom teeth with your toothbrush or dental floss.

Common problems caused by misaligned or impacted wisdom teeth

The most frequent clinical problem we see is pericoronitis, (a localized gum infection). Without enough room for total eruption, the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth can become irritated and infected, resulting in recurrent pain, swelling, and problems with chewing and/or swallowing.
Non-infectious diseases may also arise in association with an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts are fluid-filled “balloons” inside the jaw bone that develop as a result of impacted teeth and slowly expand destroying adjacent jaw bone and occasionally teeth. They can be very difficult to treat if your wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years. Although rare, tumors can be associated with the delayed removal of wisdom teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of your teeth. This is most noticeable with the front teeth, primarily the lower front teeth and is most commonly seen after a patient has had braces. There are a number of factors that cause teeth to crowd after braces or in early adulthood. Retained, impacted wisdom teeth may be a contributing factor. Unless you have an active problem when you see the oral surgeon, the reason for removal is primarily to prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums and jaw bone.
If there is inadequate room to clean around the wisdom tooth, the tooth directly in front, the second molar, can be adversely affected resulting in gum disease, bone loss around the tooth, and/or decay.

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties (17-21).

Sometimes wisdom teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned, but more often, they are misaligned and require removal.
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Around age 9. Wisdom teeth start to form inside the jawbones. The jawbones have a lot more growing to do. So they are not yet at their full density.

By the late teens. Wisdom teeth roots have developed and are getting longer. The crown of each wisdom tooth may start to erupt.

By the early 20s. Each wisdom tooth has erupted or is unable to fully erupt (is impacted). The roots may still be forming. The jawbones have stopped growing.

By about age 40.The roots of the wisdom teeth are solidly anchored in the bone. The jawbones have reached their adult density.

Wisdom teeth may grow sideways, partially emerging from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted wisdom teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt.

Impacted wisdom teeth which are poorly positioned can cause many problems. When impacted wisdom teeth are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth may allow bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness.

Moreover, the pressure from an erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth.

The most serious problem may occur when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.
When a person’s wisdom teeth are coming through, there are practical things they can do to make it less likely that their gums become infected. These actions include:

Practicing good oral hygiene: Brushing teeth twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash can help reduce the bacteria in the mouth that cause infections.

Drinking plenty of water: This helps to flush food and bacteria away from the teeth and gums.

Avoid sugary foods: Sweet foods can get stuck inside the broken gums, encouraging bacteria to grow

Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Growing In

The surest symptom of wisdom teeth growing in is the discovery of a new molar or molars in the rear of the mouth, but there are signs of their impending eruption to watch for, including pain in the back of the mouth or tenderness in the gums

Unfortunately, many common wisdom teeth symptoms are those indicative of a problem, including:

  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Jaw pain or swelling
  • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty opening the mouth


Wisdom Teeth: Oral Surgery and Extraction


If any of the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth are experienced, it is essential to find an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon and determine whether the teeth should be removed.

Even if symptom-free, it can be better to remove wisdom teeth before they become a serious problem. As patients age, their wisdom teeth roots lengthen and can become entangled with the sensory nerves of the lower jaw or sinus area of the upper jaw.

If wisdom teeth later become a problem, it will be a more difficult extraction with greater potential for complications. It is impossible to predict if or when complications could occur. 

Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient.

Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon


Schedule a Wisdom Teeth Examination

At BC Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, our Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon can perform an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, to evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there are present or may be future problems, whether your wisdom teeth are impacted, if there is room for them to erupt, and how difficult it will be to have them removed

Contact us today to arrange for a wisdom teeth examination to determine whether you may or may not require wisdom tooth removal. 


Schedule a Wisdom Teeth Examination with our Oral Surgeon >