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Oral Surgery: Wisdom teeth removal

Sometimes a tooth’s journey doesn’t go as planned. Here’s what you need to know.

When it comes to teeth, their development can last until you’re an early adult. While most are in place by the time you’re in elementary school, your wisdom teeth are the last to show up. Most people have a total of four of these molars - two on the top and two on the bottom. They’re there to help in the chewing and breaking down of your food. And while every person is different, wisdom teeth usually come in between ages 17 and 21.

Impacted vs. non-impacted – what’s the difference?

When a wisdom tooth (or any other tooth for that matter) is impacted it means it is trapped in your jaw or unable to break through the gumline. Non-impacted means a tooth has made its way up from the jaw and through the gums. However, it’s also possible a tooth can be partially impacted. Your dentist will be able to determine this through an exam and X-rays.

When you have an impacted tooth, you may not experience any symptoms. However, removal may be necessary as part of a dental treatment such as braces or if you are experiencing:

  • Red, tender, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Jaw pain or swelling
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Infection
  • Cysts under the tooth
  • Tumors
  • Damage to neighboring teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth

If your dentist determines a wisdom tooth or teeth do not need to be removed, you will still need to keep a close eye on them as problems could develop down the road as you age. It’s also important to brush and floss daily to keep all your teeth healthy.