Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, but it is possible to have fewer (hypodontia), or more, in which case they are called supernumerary teeth. Wisdom teeth commonly affect other teeth as they develop, becoming impacted or “coming in sideways.” They are often extracted when this occurs.     Download pdf

Quick Facts

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

A wisdom tooth, or third molar, that is blocked from erupting into the mouth in a normal fashion is said to be impacted. 9 out of 10 people have at least one completely impacted wisdom tooth.

What problems can result from impacted teeth?

If left in the mouth, impacted wisdom teeth may damage neighboring teeth, or become infected.  Because the third molar area of the mouth is difficult to clean, it is a site that invites the bacteria that leads to gum disease.  Oral bacteria may travel from your mouth through the bloodstream, where it may lead to possible systemic infections and illnesses that affect the heart, kidneys and other organs.

Should I wait until my wisdom teeth bother me to have them removed?

As wisdom teeth develop, their roots grow longer and the jawbone becomes more dense making them more difficult to remove and complications more apt to occur. The fact is that damage often occurs before you are aware of it.

What if my wisdom teeth have erupted and I have no problems?

Studies have found that even wisdom teeth that have broken through the tissue and erupted into the mouth in an apparently normal, upright position may be as prone to disease as impacted wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth that are completely erupted and functional, painless, cavity-free, in a hygienic environment with healthy gum tissue, and are disease-free may not require extraction.  They do, however, require regular, professional cleaning, annual check-ups and periodic radiographs to monitor for any changes.

When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

Wisdom teeth are easier to remove when the patient is younger, since their roots are not completely formed, the surrounding bone is softer, and there is less chance of damaging nearby nerves or other structures.  Removal of wisdom teeth at a later age becomes more complicated as the roots have fully developed (and may involve the nerve), and the jawbone is denser.

Why do I need a panoramic x-ray?

A panoramic x-ray, taken by your general dentist or in our office, will show the roots of all your teeth as well as the nerves and sinuses that are close to your wisdom teeth.

Will it hurt to have my wisdom teeth removed?

Dr. Korb is specially trained, licensed and experienced in the administration of local and intravenous anesthesia and the treatment of anxiety. Dr. Korb will discuss different anesthetic options. Modern anesthesia technology now makes it possible to perform even complex surgery in the oral and maxillofacial surgery office with little or no discomfort.