Your wisdom teeth—also called the third molars—are the last teeth to develop and erupt in the mouth. Because of this, there is often little room left in the mouth to facilitate these new teeth. As a result, wisdom teeth often erupt sideways, only partially, or become impacted—meaning the tooth is blocked from erupting. When this happens, it is recommended that patients have a wisdom tooth extraction procedure to relieve pain, alleviate any infection, and reduce swelling. Wisdom teeth typically appear between the ages of 17 and 21.

Wisdom teeth removal is a fairly common, but it is a surgical procedure and many patients will be put under using a local or general anesthetic. Once the patient is sedated, the surgeon will remove the affected tooth or teeth. If the tooth is impacted, the surgeon will cut away gum and bone tissue to remove the tooth. While many general dentists are trained in the removal of impacted or un-erupted wisdom teeth, most wisdom tooth removals require the services of an oral surgeon.

Following the extraction, some post-operative care may be necessary to facilitate recovery. This recovery period typically lasts a few days—although the length of your recovery varies depending on the type of procedure performed. There are several steps you can take to ensure proper healing and recovery following a wisdom tooth extraction. Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with that information based upon your specific situation.