Wisdom Tooth Surgery

Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure to remove one or more wisdom teeth — the four permanent adult teeth located at the back corners of your mouth on the top and bottom.

If a wisdom tooth doesn’t have room to grow (impacted wisdom tooth), resulting in pain, infection or other dental problems, you’ll likely need to have it pulled. Wisdom tooth extraction may be done by a dentist or an oral surgeon.

To prevent potential future problems, some dentists and oral surgeons recommend wisdom tooth extraction even if impacted teeth aren’t currently causing problems.

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Problems with impacted wisdom teeth

You’ll likely need your impacted wisdom tooth pulled if it results in problems such as:

  • Pain
  • Trapping food and debris behind the wisdom tooth
  • Infection or gum disease (periodontal disease)
  • Tooth decay in a partially erupted wisdom tooth
  • Damage to a nearby tooth or surrounding bone
  • Development of a fluid-filled sac (cyst) around the wisdom tooth
  • Complications with orthodontic treatments to straighten other teeth

Preventing future dental problems

Dental specialists disagree about the value of extracting impacted wisdom teeth that aren’t causing problems (asymptomatic).

It’s difficult to predict future problems with impacted wisdom teeth. However, here’s the rationale for preventive extraction:

  • Symptom-free wisdom teeth could still harbor disease.
  • If there isn’t enough space for the tooth to erupt, it’s often hard to get to it and clean it properly.
  • Serious complications with wisdom teeth happen less often in younger adults.
  • Older adults may experience difficulty with surgery and complications after surgery.
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