Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that emerge, usually during your late teens to early twenties. For some people the wisdom teeth emerge through the gums and have enough room to grow in naturally. For others, wisdom teeth often cause problems as they are trying to erupt through the gums. When a wisdom tooth is impacted the tooth is coming in at an angle and not straight through the gum line. This can cause pain, the tooth can come in unevenly, or the tooth may only emerge partially.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause structural damage to the jaw and other teeth. They can also provide a place for bacteria to gather since they are hard to reach and clean. These potential problems make it necessary to remove impacted wisdom teeth so that larger problems do not arise. Routine x-rays during a dental exam can reveal if you will need to have your wisdom teeth removed.
We typically recommend that most young adults have their wisdom teeth removed in their late teens to early twenties when their removal is easiest and least likely to result in surgical complications. Having your wisdom teeth out eliminates the common problems in adulthood that result; including periodontal pocketing and decay involving not just the offending wisdom tooth, but many times the valuable adjacent second molar as well. Although we perform some oral surgery, often we refer removal of the wisdom teeth to an oral surgeon so that the patient can have the procedure accomplished comfortably under general anesthesia.