Is it Really Necessary?

Wisdom teeth, sometimes referred to as third molars, usually erupt into the mouth at around 17 – 25 years of age. They are the last set of permanent teeth to appear. Some people never develop them while others erupt normally and cause no problems.

When they align properly, and the gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when your wisdom teeth are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result is swelling, jaw stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may cause pain in the general area. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, your dentist can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be future or present problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Wisdom tooth evaluation usually first occurs in the mid-teenage years and the best time for removal is from mid-teens to early 20’s. Surgeries performed later in life can still be very effective, but healing may be slower, and the risk of complications slightly higher.

 Wisdom teeth are always removed with local anesthesia; however, Dr. Hansford also offers IV sedation for a more comfortable procedure. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety, utilizing modern monitoring equipment and staff experienced in anesthesia techniques. Visit for more information about sedation dentistry.