Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the final teeth to develop. Most of us have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of the mouth. They usually emerge during our late teens or early twenties. Often wisdom teeth become trapped, or impacted, in the jawbone and cause crowding, displacement, decay, infection, or gum disease. Impacted wisdom teeth can grow in many different directions: horizontally, vertically, or at an angle.

Wisdom tooth soft bony impaction Angular, bony impaction of third molar (wisdom tooth).
Wisdom tooth soft tissue impaction Soft tissue impaction of third molar (wisdom tooth).

In most cases, it is recommended that impacted wisdom teeth are extracted. Wisdom tooth surgery is performed, usually under local anesthesia, in your dentist's office, an outpatient surgical facility, or a hospital. Make arrangements for a responsible adult to drive you home and plan to rest at home for the remainder of the day.

The Procedure

wisdom tooth surgical procedure part 1 Incision is made and overlying bone is removed, exposing crown of impacted tooth.
wisdom tooth surgical procedure part 2 Tooth is extracted whole or surgically sectioned. The site is sutured closed.

To ease any discomfort and promote healing:

  • Use ice packs on the cheek for swelling, alternating on and off every thirty minutes.
  • Apply biting pressure with clean gauze to stop bleeding.
  • Eat soft foods and drink extra liquids.
  • Avoid hard or crunchy foods in the tender area.
  • Brush carefully the day after surgery.
  • Take prescribed medications and follow all instructions as directed.

Call your doctor immediately in case of excessive bleeding or swelling, persistent, severe pain or fever.

Be sure to follow the special home care instructions provided by your dental professional.

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