Four out of five young adults experience problems with their wisdom teeth. When left untreated these issues can manifest as more costly and risky conditions. Some of these are:

  • Abscesses and other infections
  • Periodontal disease
  • Cavities
  • Damage to adjacent teeth
  • Crowding of the surrounding teeth
  • Cyst or tumor development

Wisdom teeth are the four teeth at the back of your upper and lower jaws on either side of your mouth. Historically wisdom teeth were used by our ancestors to grind their foods for proper digestion. Their diets contained a high percentage of hard nuts, raw plants and tough meats. The large, powerful wisdom teeth were used to break down these foods properly for digestion.

Today, what we eat, the way we eat and how we prepare food have eliminated our need for wisdom teeth. With this lack of need, we are actively evolving towards having no wisdom teeth. Currently, about 20-25% of the population is born with one to three wisdom teeth (instead of four), and 35% are born with no wisdom teeth at all.

If your wisdom teeth have the space to grow in without issue, they can be left as they are and function like the rest of your teeth. If you are among those with wisdom teeth and without the necessary space at the back of the jaws to accommodate them, they can become impacted. “Impacted” means that your wisdom teeth are fully or partially stuck under tissue and gums.

How do I know if I need my wisdom teeth removed?

How do I know if my wisdom teeth are impacted, if active disease has developed, or if they should be removed? 

You may feel a pain or tenderness in the back of your gums or jaw. Redness and swelling may be present around the tooth (or teeth). You may also experience headaches or jaw aches, bad breath or an unpleasant taste when biting down on or near the area.

It is also possible to experience zero or minimal pain and tenderness, even when active disease develops in the area.

The most effective way to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted, inflamed or if periodontal disease is present is with a professional examination.

When should wisdom teeth be removed?

At what age should my child have their wisdom teeth evaluated? 

Age 15 is usually the ideal age for wisdom teeth removal. In teenagers and young adults, the roots of wisdom teeth have not fully formed, and the bones of the jaws are softer. This reduces healing time and the risk of damage to nearby nerves and other structures. Removing wisdom teeth in adults is more difficult and has a slower recovery process compared to younger patients.

We recommend having your child’s wisdom teeth evaluated at age 15. Remember, consultations are free!

What does an exam of your wisdom teeth look like?

At Blue Ridge Orthodontics, we offer consultations virtually. We offer our first consultations online because your time is valuable, and we believe you should make an informed decision about the medical practitioners you see.

This complimentary consultation provides an opportunity for one of our experienced oral surgery coordinators to hear and discuss your concerns and goals, medical history, and current medications, and to talk through your x-rays – either taken by our office at a previous orthodontic exam, or by your dental office. (If you do not have a recent x-ray of your teeth and jaws, your consultation will be in-person instead of virtually to allow those to be taken.) All x-rays will be reviewed by our team of expert oral surgeons.

Next, we’ll talk through symptoms you have (if any). Once your initial questions have been answered and you decide to move forward with our team, we will set up a time that works with your schedule for you to come into our office.

consultation for dental extractions at Blue Ridge Orthodontics oral surgery department

How will my wisdom teeth be treated?

Wisdom teeth that are actively infected or pose a significant future risk should be removed through surgery. In our office, this is done through IV sedation unless discussed otherwise.

If no issues are discovered with your wisdom teeth, you may also decide to take no steps, or to proactively remove them. It is common for wisdom teeth that have grown in completely to develop problems overtime. Periodic evaluation is necessary to detect future development of disease.

How long will recovery take?

Most young patients will need only a few days off work or school to feel well enough to resume some activity. You should abstain from rigorous activity, like team sports, for several days. During this time, it is very important to keep your mouth clean to avoid post-surgery infection. Our doctors will provide more information about your aftercare dos and don’ts.

Your lifetime of bright smiles starts here…

Schedule an appointment or FREE new patient exam today!