The wisdom teeth are the third set of molars, so named because they emerge last, at around the ages of 17 to 21. It is usually recommended that they be extracted because often, there is not enough room for them to properly erupt and sit comfortably on the gum line with the rest of the developed teeth. As a result, they become impacted, meaning that they erupt at an angle or do not erupt all the way.
Leaving impacted teeth in the mouth can cause discomfort and lead to dental problems as the teeth will be difficult to clean. Additionally, impacted teeth or even wisdom teeth that haven’t erupted at all can lead to the development of cysts or cause the epithelial lining to become cancerous. Extracting the wisdom teeth avoids all of these problems and, after a brief period of discomfort following the procedure, allows for more comfort in the long run.
There are generally two procedures in which wisdom teeth can be extracted. A simple extraction can be performed on a tooth that has erupted fully. The tooth is loosened using a tool called an elevator and lifted out of the gum line. On the other hand, if the tooth has not erupted all the way, a more complicated surgical procedure will be necessary. After administering an anesthetic, the dentist will make an incision into the gums in order to access the tooth. It may be necessary to remove some of the bone surrounding the tooth in order to extract it more easily. The tooth may also be broken up to be taken out. Once it has been entirely removed, the gums will be stitched closed over the extraction site to encourage healing. The patient will have to follow special instructions on caring for the extraction site(s) in the time period following the procedure to ensure that proper healing takes place.