The third set of molars, normally called wisdom teeth, are some of the most commonly removed teeth. Their nickname came about because of the age at which the teeth start to emerge. Most adults will start to see their wisdom teeth grow into the mouth anytime between ages 17 and 21. Some consider this the time when people start to become wiser.

Wisdom teeth are not necessarily bad teeth, even though most dentists recommend getting them removed before they cause problems. They are the same as the rest of the molars in your mouth, and if they grow in correctly, they will cause no issues. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth often don’t grow into your mouth properly.

Preventative or Reactionary Measures

If your wisdom teeth are just like the rest of the molars in your mouth, why do they so often have to be removed? Your dentist will often start to check your X-rays for wisdom teeth around the time that they could potentially start causing problems. Because wisdom teeth have a higher chance of causing problems in your mouth, dentists will often take a preventative approach to removing them. If they think your wisdom teeth may give you grief, they will likely recommend having them removed.

Dentists prefer to remove your wisdom teeth before they cause problems, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. When it doesn’t, your dentist will watch your wisdom teeth grow in to make sure they don’t cause any problems. If problems aren’t likely, your wisdom teeth get to stay. However, your dentist may need to react to emerging issues caused by your wisdom teeth and remove them before the issues get worse.

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

You’ve heard that it’s vital to get your wisdom teeth removed when problems arise, but what exactly are these problems?

  • Impaction – Impacted wisdom teeth happen when there isn’t enough room for them to grow into your mouth properly. When a tooth is impacted, it’s trapped within your gums or jawbone, which can often be painful.
  • Angled Growth – Wisdom teeth can sometimes start to grow at the wrong angle. When this happens, the wisdom tooth usually starts to push against your other teeth, pushing them out of place. This can undo years of restorative and orthodontic work.
  • Partial Eruption – Sometimes wisdom teeth can start to erupt through your gums, but never full make it out. When this happens, pockets form in your gums that are prime spots for bacteria and infections.
  • Jaw Damage – Cysts can form around your wisdom teeth. If these cysts aren’t treated, they can cause cause hollow spots on your jaw and damage nerves.

What to Expect from Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, you may be a little nervous about the process. However, the surgery is so common that there isn’t anything to worry about. The surgery is relatively short, with most procedures ending within 45 minutes.

Once you get to your dentist’s office, you’ll be administered anesthesia, either local or IV sedation. If your wisdom teeth have not erupted, your dentist will cut through your gums to reach them. After the teeth have been removed, your dentist will stitch up the cuts and typically pack your mouth with gauze.

After the surgery, expect some recovery time of around three days. During this time, you will need to use an icepack to reduce swelling and watch what you eat so as to not bother the area where your teeth were removed.

Have Confidence in Your Dentist

Getting your wisdom teeth removed shouldn’t be a scary process. It’s a common procedure that your dentist has likely performed many times before you. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t be afraid to bring them to your dentist during the consultation visit.