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Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Wisdom teeth are also known as third molars. They are numbered as teeth numbers 1, 16, 17 and 32. Wisdom teeth vary greatly in size, form, position and development. When fully erupted and in occlusion with the opposite third molar, the wisdom teeth can be a supplement to chewing. However, if the wisdom teeth are unerupted or impacted (a tooth that has failed to erupt to its normal position and is prevented from doing so by bone, soft tissue or the adjacent tooth), it may be necessary that the wisdom teeth be removed.

If an impacted tooth is not removed, there can be many potential problems. A partially impacted tooth may become infected causing bone loss associated with the adjacent teeth. Cystic formation can occur with fully impacted teeth which lead to bone and tooth destruction. Tumors have also been found in the walls of these cysts.

The optimal age for third molar extraction is between 15 and 18 years of age. The older the patient becomes, the more difficult the procedure and the recovery. The potential for medical problems such as hypertension and diabetes also increases with age. It is easier on the patient and the surgeon if the wisdom teeth are removed at an appropriate younger age.  If extraction is required, the teeth can be removed under local or general anesthesia.