Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third molars. They are located completely at the back of the mouth and their main function is mastication. In general, they erupt between the ages of 16 and 25. Due to limited space, they sometimes erupt partially in the gums or not at all. In the latter case, we say that the tooth is impacted.

It is important that your dentist evaluate the health of your wisdom teeth. A panoramic x-ray is a good tool to assess the size of the teeth, the formation of their roots, the angle of eruption, the space available and the jaw bone.

Wisdom Teeth
In this panoramic x-ray, 4 molars did not erupt properly and are likely to cause harm to adjacent teeth.

Why extract wisdom teeth

The decision to extract a wisdom tooth depends on several factors including:

  • Partially erupted teeth are difficult to clean properly which can cause several problems including decay.
  • The probability that wisdom teeth cause problems in the medium and long term.
  • For some people, wisdom teeth cause pain.
  • The chances of developing a cyst or benign tumor are larger with an impacted tooth.
  • Wisdom teeth that grow horizontally can affect its neighbor the second molar. If the latter is destroyed significantly, it will also have to be extracted.
  • Impacted and partially erupted teeth can cause localized disease of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth.
  • Inflammation of the tissues surrounding the crown of the tooth and the infection of the soft tissues of the face are possible complications of impacted and partially erupted wisdom teeth.

When to extract wisdom teeth

The best time to remove wisdom teeth is at the end of adolescence. At this age, the bone is more malleable and roots may not be fully formed, which makes treatment less complicated. Moreover, the recovery is faster.

3D Dental imaging

High definition 3D diagnostic images
High definition 3D diagnostic images

In more complex cases, it may be required to take a cone beam computed tomography. This type of radiography give a 3D representation of the teeth and surrounding structures (teeth, alveolar nerve and lingual nerve, jaw, etc..).

The decision to take a 3D X-ray should be taken by your dentist. However, should you need it, we are among the few clinics to have this technology.

Supplemental Information

If you just had a tooth extraction, see our postoperative advice.

For more information on the extraction of wisdom teeth, we invite you to visit the website of Ordre des dentistes du Québec  and this video clip: