The wisdom teeth are typically the last four teeth to surface in the mouth, making their appearance between our late teens and mid-20s. They reside at the back of the mouth, both on the top and bottom. They’re called “wisdom” teeth because they appear at an age when we’re more mature, or have gained wisdom. For the most part, there’s inadequate space for them to erupt (surface) properly, and they can become stuck (or impacted) in a position that is potentially harmful. Impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to damage of your other teeth, infection, and in some cases, tumors or cysts.
There are three degrees of impaction, which vary depending on the depth of the teeth within your jaw: Complete bony impaction: This is the most severe situation, when the tooth is completely encased by the jawbone. This requires a complex removal technique. Partial bony impaction: This is when the tooth has partially surfaced, but part of the crown still sits below the gum and surrounding jawbone. Infections occur because it is difficult to keep the area clean. Soft tissue impaction: This is the least severe type of impaction. It occurs when the crown, or the upper portion of the tooth, has penetrated through the bone, but the gum covers part or all of the tooth’s crown. This makes it difficult to keep the area clean, meaning that food can become trapped below the gum, causing infection, tooth decay or both.
Wisdom teeth removal is an extremely common procedure, and the surgery is usually performed in 45 minutes or less. You’ll get one of three different types of anesthesia so that you don’t feel any pain - local sedation, IV sedation or general anesthesia. An incision may be required, and if so, your dentist will stitch the wound shut after completing the removal. These stitches usually dissolve within a few days.