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Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you're a teen who's 13 or older, you probably have most of your permanent, or adult teeth. The last of the permanent teeth to appear are called third molars or wisdom teeth. They usually begin to erupt, pushing their way through the gums, between the ages of 17 and 21.

Wisdom teeth that are healthy and properly positioned can be an asset. For some teens, however, one or more of the four wisdom teeth may be missing, having never formed. In most cases, wisdom teeth remain impacted, trapped beneath the gum and bone against the teeth in front of them. They may partially erupt because the jaw can be crowded by other permanent teeth. The partially erupted teeth may tilt sideways and may cause damage to adjacent teeth.

Regular dental checkups are important not just for having your teeth cleaned but for allowing your dentist to track the progress and condition of your adult teeth. After examining your mouth and taking X-rays, your dentist can evaluate your wisdom teeth and discuss whether or not they should be removed.

Because they are so far back in the mouth, wisdom teeth often are not needed for chewing and they are difficult to keep clean. Your dentist may recommend the early removal of impacted wisdom teeth to prevent against the potential complications of:

  • The wisdom tooth partially erupts through the gum. This creates an opening where bacteria may enter and cause infection. Pain, swelling and jaw stiffness may result.
  • The impacted wisdom tooth may continue growing without having enough room, which may damage adjacent teeth.
  • A fluid-filled sac (cyst) or tumor may form on or near the impacted tooth, destroying surrounding bone or tooth roots.