What are the wisdom teeth?
The wisdom teeth are technically the third molars. These third molars are typically the last to erupt and usually come in between the ages of 18 and 20 years old. Because this was the time when people were considered to grow wise, the third molars became known as the wisdom teeth. When the wisdom teeth grow in properly, they can be fully functional, have a proper bite relationship, and have healthy associated gum tissue. However, most wisdom teeth do not erupt properly.

What is an impaction?
When wisdom teeth are not allowed to erupt properly into the mouth, they are called “impacted.” Impacted teeth can cause tooth decay on the adjacent teeth, infection, periodontal (gum) disease, or the formation of a tumor or cyst. Durham dentist Dr. Gary Schlotterer usually recommends removing the impacted wisdom teeth as soon as possible to prevent potentially costly oral health problems.

My wisdom teeth have come in. Why should I have them removed?
The wisdom teeth may need to be removed if any of the teeth do not function well, if they are badly decayed, if they interfere with the bite or another tooth’s restoration, or if they are at risk for periodontal disease. Because each person and each case is different, it is important to have Durham dentist Dr. Schlotterer evaluate whether or not your wisdom teeth need to be removed.

When should the wisdom teeth be removed?
You may need the wisdom teeth removed if you experience: infection in the mouth, pain, facial swelling, or swelling in the gums. Occasionally, Dr. Schlotterer will recommend having the wisdom teeth removed in the teenage years. Early removal can help eliminate and prevent problems such as an impacted tooth that damaged the surrounding teeth.

What problems are often associated with impacted wisdom teeth?
Impactions have been known to cause plaque and bacteria buildup, tumors, cysts, infections, gum disease, and jaw disease.

What is involved in the wisdom tooth extraction procedure?
Wisdom tooth extraction first involves accessing the tooth through both the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. An oral surgeon will gently detach the tissue connecting the bone and tooth and carefully remove the tooth. Wisdom tooth extraction is commonly performed while the patient is under dental sedation.