Wisdom Teeth Questions and Answers

What are the wisdom teeth?

The wisdom teeth, also referred to as the third molars, are the last teeth to come through the gums in a patient’s mouth. This typically takes place in late adolescence or early adulthood. The wisdom teeth were essential for early humans, who needed them to serve as substitutes for other teeth worn out by processing a much rougher diet than their modern counterparts have. The wisdom teeth are largely unnecessary for today’s humans.
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Why do wisdom teeth become impacted, and what issues are associated with impacted wisdom teeth?

As humans have evolved, wisdom teeth became problematic because the jaw no longer has room to accommodate them. The other teeth don’t wear out as easily and they stay in place longer. When the wisdom teeth fail to come in or do so only partially, we say that they are impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth can cause a number of problems, ranging from discomfort to abscesses to infection. Impacted wisdom teeth can also knock the other teeth out of their proper alignment.
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How do I know if I still have my wisdom teeth?

The easy answer is that if you’ve never had your wisdom teeth extracted, then they’re still there! However, some patients may not realize that their wisdom teeth are still in place because they’re not causing any trouble. If you are uncertain whether you have wisdom teeth, Dr. Partridge can take an x-ray to confirm their presence.
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My wisdom teeth aren’t causing me any problems. Why do I need to have them removed?

According to research from the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, wisdom teeth that have erupted in the proper alignment are as susceptible to oral diseases as impacted wisdom teeth are. Plus, you never know when a wisdom tooth is going to create a problem, so it’s best to have them extracted before they do.
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At what age should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

Ideally, patients should have their wisdom teeth removed by age 25. When patients are younger, the roots of wisdom teeth are not as well-developed. Therefore, the extraction procedure is much simpler, and patients recover more quickly. Even so, older patients who still have their wisdom teeth should seriously consider having them removed.
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What should I do to prepare for my wisdom teeth extraction?

When undergoing surgery of any sort, it’s always a good idea to know what to expect. Talk with Dr. Partridge about the procedure so you’ll be ready for what the process entails. Dr. Partridge also can give you specific pre-operative instructions. For example, if you are undergoing general anesthesia for the surgery, you will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of the procedure.

In advance of your appointment, you should also identify a responsible adult who can escort you home as the anesthesia or sedation wears off following your wisdom teeth extraction.
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What risks are associated with wisdom teeth extraction?

Patients who have their wisdom teeth extracted face minimal risks from the procedure. The main concern is dry sockets, a painful condition in which the blood clot pulls away from the socket, exposing nerves to the air. Dry sockets can be prevented, though, and your oral surgeon can recommend steps to help you avoid them. As with any surgical procedure, there is a small risk of infection with a wisdom tooth extraction. Of course, the typical risks associated with anesthesia apply in the case of wisdom teeth extractions, too.
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