Wisdom Teeth & Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Posted on 06/18/2018
Wisdom Teeth & Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Wisdom Teeth & Wisdom Tooth ExtractionYour third molars are more commonly called "wisdom teeth." Usually appearing in the late teens or early twenties, wisdom teeth often lack the proper space in the jaw to erupt fully or even at all. This common condition is called impaction.

When teeth lack the space to come through, or simply develop in the wrong place and become impacted, problems arise. Thus, it becomes necessary to extract the teeth in order to prevent bigger dental and orthodontic issues.

When Is Wisdom Tooth Extraction Necessary?

Wisdom tooth extraction is a relatively common procedure, performed on some five million patients every year. When your wisdom teeth start coming in, a dentist will use a series of diagnostic tests such as x-rays or a CT scan to see if the new teeth will cause issues in your mouth. Wisdom tooth extraction will be recommended if:

  • Your jaw is too small to accommodate all your teeth once the wisdom teeth come in.
  • The wisdom teeth are erupting (coming in) in a crooked orientation.
  • It doesn’t look like one or more of the wisdom teeth are going to erupt.

What If I Leave My Wisdom Teeth in?

If your jaw is too small for new wisdom teeth then crowding will occur. Crowding can lead to your wisdom teeth becoming impacted (that is, unable to emerge from the gums), potentially harming adjacent bone or teeth. Additionally, if your wisdom teeth come in at a crooked angle they can damage teeth, harm the jaw, and cause bite problems. All of this will lead to a need for more extreme orthodontic treatment.

Furthermore, when a wisdom tooth doesn’t fully erupt then it has a greater chance of developing bacterial infections. A cyst (a closed, fluid-filled sac) may also form around an unerupted wisdom tooth, which can turn into an infection and injure adjacent bone or nerve tissue.

The Extraction Procedure

Wisdom tooth extraction is usually an in-office procedure performed by a dentist. Patients are given the appropriate anesthetic then the tooth is gently removed. If the tooth is already impacted, gum tissue at the extraction site may need to be opened. At the end of the extraction, the extraction site may need to be sutured (stitched) to help its healing.


The recovery period after wisdom tooth extraction generally only lasts a few days. During this time you should rest to encourage healing and take pain medication as prescribed. It's normal to experience some bleeding at the extraction site; this can be controlled by gently biting on gauze pads, changing them as needed, and resting with your head elevated on pillows rather than lying flat. You can also hold an ice pack on the outside of your cheek for a few minutes at a time (for example, five minutes on / five minutes off) as this may help reduce swelling the first day after the procedure. On day two the warm, moist heat of a washcloth placed on the outside of the cheek may make you more comfortable. Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water a few times a day can also help alleviate discomfort.

We recommend eating soft foods for the first few days after a wisdom tooth extraction. On the same note, be careful when brushing your teeth or putting anything in your mouth until your healing is complete. As a whole, be sure to follow your post-operative instructions.

Learn More about Your Teeth Today!

Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure than many of us go through in order to prevent future dental and orthodontic problems and protect our smiles. If you’re at an age when your wisdom teeth are coming in, this treatment may be right for you. If you have questions, please contact us at our Eldridge, Maquoketa, or Bettendorf, IA orthodontist office today.

And for more info about oral and dental topics, visit the Mack Orthodontics blog again soon!