What To Do About Wisdom Teeth

Close-up view of wisdom teeth with dental tools

Most people are born with third molars in their mouth. You know these molars by the name of “wisdom teeth”. These teeth come in later, after many people have received orthodontic care for straightening the teeth and bite and alignment issues. However, you can have those same issues and more flare up if you don’t get your wisdom teeth taken out. Find out what to do about your wisdom teeth, at what age, and what the process of wisdom teeth removal is like!


Your Wisdom Teeth

A healthy adult mouth is one that has 32 total teeth. However, for many patients, 4 of those teeth will be the wisdom teeth, and they will eventually need to be removed. That leaves you with 28 teeth that you need to keep healthy throughout your life. Genetically, some patients will have only 2 wisdom teeth, and some may even have 1, 3 or none. These teeth are known as the “third molars” and are the large teeth at the very back of your mouth.


Your third molars are not your source of wisdom, as the name might have you think. Actually, these teeth are named such, because they come in around the time when many teens are becoming an adult. The time between 17 and 21 during the transition from high school to college when teens start obtaining a high volume of wisdom in a short amount of time. Hence, the third molars received the name of “wisdom teeth”.


Dental x-rays emphasizing the lower jaw wisdom teeth

Possible Problems to Consider

You will have a wisdom tooth on either side of your mouth on the top and bottom jaws. In centuries past, these teeth may have been needed for a more meat-based diet, especially when hunting was the main method of obtaining food instead of going to a grocery store.  Having an extra few teeth would have made chewing crude meat and other foods easier. However, these teeth have not been needed for at least this century, if not longer. In fact, the wisdom teeth can cause many more problems in modern times if they are not removed.


Your mouth can only fit so many teeth inside, especially if you naturally have a smaller mouth palate or arch. Often, children and teens receive surgical orthodontics and orthodontic appliances to widen a palate or to make room for the normal amount of teeth. The third molars don’t serve any main purpose and cause a myriad of problems for patients such as:

  • Crowding and crooked teeth, even if previous braces were worn
  • Bacteria pockets and cyst formations
  • Infections
  • Tooth pain
  • Damage, breakage, or weakening teeth next to the third molars
  • Wisdom teeth coming in sideways instead of upright


Removal of the Teeth

Some people for-go getting their wisdom teeth removed because they are afraid it will be a painful procedure. However, if the dental procedure is done at the right age by a dental professional, then you have nothing to worry about. Many teens get their teeth removed during high school and in college. However, if there are no orthodontic problems happening, opt for doing them later instead of too early. Early removal may require cutting down deeper into the gums and removing the teeth from the jawbone. When the wisdom teeth are removed once they begin to come in, they are closer to the surface of the gums. A patient may only need some topical anesthetic to remove teeth when they have come in all the way.


Depending on a patient’s age and where the wisdom teeth lie in their gums, their removal experience may be different. The magic age to get these teeth removed is between 17 and 21. At that time, the teeth are likely mature and in optimal place for removal. Your dentist or oral surgeon will take x-rays of your teeth at your first appointment. With them, you will make an appointment and removal plan and will discuss the process of removal. If the teeth lie right under the gums, you will get anesthetic shots (much like a cavity fill), and with a few small incisions, the teeth will be removed.


Other patients will have their wisdom teeth deep in their gums or impacting the surrounding teeth. If needed, some patients will need IV sedation to provide them the most comfortable experience for wisdom teeth removal. After removal, patients will need to do warm salt-water rinses several times a day. They may also need to use a waterpik tool to blast food out of the area when it gets stuck. Patients will need to eat soft foods until the area heals or the stitches dissolve.


Dentist and dental hygienist performing a procedure on a patient

Seek a Dental Professional for Help

When getting your third molars removed, you want to go about it the right way. Don’t have your child’s teeth removed at an early age simply because you get a “good deal” on price. Also, don’t just go anywhere to have those teeth removed. You want to have several dental appointments with a dentist to observe the movement of the wisdom teeth. See how they are coming in and what they will do if they are not removed. Based on age and x-rays, a dentist can determine if the teeth are ready to come out and if they are just under the gum line.


Seeking the right professional help can make the tooth extraction process fairly simple and recovery much quicker. With a dentist trained in tooth extractions and wisdom teeth removal, they have perfected how to take out the teeth efficiently and with the least amount of mouth trauma. There are many experimental or research centers that offer “free” wisdom teeth removal, but these often do the procedures without anesthetic or with experimental methods. If you need your wisdom teeth removed, make sure to call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies at (970) 223-8425!