Wisdom teeth are the last molars, or "third molars" that develop on each side of the jaw. They usually emerge in the back of the mouth between the ages of 16-20.
When the wisdom teeth have enough room to fully erupt into the mouth, they typically don’t need to be removed. They can function perfectly well as normal molars.
When the wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to erupt, they can sometimes get stuck halfway through the gums, where they can cause chronic gum pain, or can get cavities because they’re not cleanable. In those cases, all or part of those teeth should be removed.
Sometimes, the roots of the lower wisdom teeth wrap around the nerve that runs beneath the teeth. If that’s the case, removing the entire tooth could permanently damage the nerve. In those cases, we recommend a “coronectomy” instead of an extraction. We selectively remove only the part of the tooth that was causing the problem, and leave the area close to the nerve safely undisturbed. The gums quickly grow over the space where the wisdom tooth was. Over time, the body slowly converts the leftover bit of tooth structure into bone.
Please call our office if you have any questions or concerns about your wisdom teeth.