What Should I Know About Wisdom Teeth Removal?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Your wisdom teeth, or mandibular third molars, are the teeth in the back of your jaw that may or may not come in sometime between the ages of 16 and 25. The teeth are so named because of when they appear, at a time when it is assumed a person has gained some bit of wisdom. Although originally they served a function, in the modern age they often impact other teeth and create problems, generating a need for wisdom teeth removal in many young adults.

Because of where wisdom teeth come in, its possible that they will impact other teeth, pushing them. This is known commonly as coming in sideways, because it seems they are pushing the other teeth from the side. This happens often when there isn’t enough room in the jaw for the teeth, so they come in at a strange angle. If a person opts against wisdom teeth removal in spite of impaction or the threat of impaction, the consequences can be fairly severe, with the other teeth being knocked into disjointed angles, creating an unsightly and potentially dangerous situation.


There are four types of impaction that can occur with wisdom teeth, with two types making up the vast majority of cases. Nearly half of all cases in which wisdom teeth removal is recommended are cases of mesioangular impaction, where the tooth is angled towards the front of the mouth. More than a third of cases are of vertical impaction, where the tooth doesn’t actually breach all the way through the gum line, creating a potentially dangerous situation. And the remainder of cases are of either distoangular impaction, where the tooth is angled towards the rear of the mouth, or horizontal impaction, where the tooth is angled towards the roots of the second molar.

Vertical impaction can be particularly dangerous, since the tooth breaches the gum only part way, and a flap of gum remains over the tooth. This flap creates a situation where debris and bacteria can build up, and unless vigorously cleaned regularly, which is time consuming and may require a syringe, pericoronitis can set in, leading to a severe infection that can make wisdom teeth removal even more painful and difficult if not treated right away. For this reason, it’s important to go see a dentist as soon as you feel your wisdom teeth beginning to breach. Many people wait, assuming the teeth will finish breaching on their own, and they will notice if their other teeth start to be impacted, but in fact teeth can stay partially breached permanently.

Wisdom teeth removal requires dental surgery, but as it is one of the most common dental procedures it is well streamlined. Post-operation complications may occur, including dry socket, often as a result of failing to follow the dentist’s recommendations about things like refraining from smoking of drinking with a straw, bleeding, nerve damage, and swelling. So long as the dentist’s instructions are followed to the letter, however, the chances of post-operation complications are relatively low, with the vast majority of cases coming from people who assume the recommendations are particularly strict for no good reason.


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Post 2

My advice about wisdom teeth removal is to not put it off for years after diagnosis, if at all possible. The longer you wait, the worse it can get. I waited until I found a job with dental insurance benefits before scheduling my wisdom teeth surgery, and by then the discomfort of overcrowded teeth was almost unbearable at times.

Post 1

My wife had to have her wisdom teeth pulled, and they decided to remove all four at the same time to prevent future problems. She was under general anesthesia, so she experienced the usual post-op conditions such as nausea, confusion and dizziness. It took a few days for her to feel normal again. She drank nutritional milkshakes through a straw for the first few days, then started eating soup when the swelling and pain subsided.

My advice is to take the oral surgeon's post-op instructions very seriously. "Dry socket" can be a very serious complication after wisdom teeth surgery. My wife didn't try to eat solid food or drink without a straw until the stitches dissolved. I knew someone else who tried to eat a hamburger two days after the surgery and he ended up with dry socket.

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