Third molars, also called wisdom teeth, are the last of a person’s teeth to surface, usually between ages 17-25. Most people get four wisdom teeth, but some don’t have any, and in rare cases people end up with more than four. Your dentist will observe your wisdom teeth through x-rays as part of regular examinations.
The Canadian Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons (CAOMS) states that 85% of people with wisdom teeth will eventually have to have them removed. Wisdom teeth are often impacted – not properly emerged through the gums, or they grow in crooked (sometimes even sideways). Left untreated impacted teeth can cause a host of problems, including misalignment of the jaw.
Wisdom teeth also commonly cause headaches, jaw stiffness and infection.
Even if not impacted, wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean and often require removal to reduce the risk of decay and infection.
The best time to remove wisdom teeth is when a patient is in their late teens to early 20’s, according to the CAOMS. Surgeries performed later in life are still effective, but healing may be slower, and the risk of complications may be slightly higher.
Wisdom teeth extraction is performed under local or general anesthetic and does not require an overnight stay. The surgery is performed in an environment of optimum safety, with modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.