Getting Wisdom Teeth Removed | Why Age Matters

Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Wisdom teeth are also known as third molars – the last teeth to file in. Talking about wisdom teeth can be scary for children and adults, because removing those teeth usually involves some form of surgery. As a result, we all fear dealing with the dreaded “impacted” wisdom tooth, yet we still watch the funny viral post-surgery videos on YouTube.

Thankfully, today’s modern technology and years of perfecting the procedure have helped us make wisdom teeth extractions a commonplace procedure with little discomfort during recovery. Even if you’re still worried about your family recording you on the way home.

What Is The Right Age for Wisdom Teeth Removal?

There isn’t necessarily a rule that states when people should get their wisdom teeth extracted. The soonest a wisdom tooth can safely be removed is after the root has developed to two-thirds of its adult size.

While it’s generally not necessary to remove a tooth this early, there are some cases where this will make sense for the best oral health results. Typically, wisdom teeth extractions are recommended between the ages of 18 and the early 20s. Some dentists even recommend having them removed earlier, depending on the structure of an individual mouth.

Around this age, though, wisdom teeth should be protruding through your gums, roots, and all. At this point, you should consult with your dentist, as there may be some issues with the rate of growth. If they are too developed, they can cause crowding and other issues that will shift the placement of your teeth. If they are too underdeveloped, they may need to stay a while longer before removal to ensure proper extractions can be made.

Also in this time frame, there are fewer risks for complications before, during, and post-surgery. Studies have shown that older patients experience more complications during the actual extraction process, as well as during postoperative recovery, in comparison to younger patients.

Why Waste Wisdom Teeth?

Many people’s jaws are simply not big enough to house wisdom teeth. This is how they get impacted, or stuck, in your jaw and unable to grow up through your gums like other teeth. Ouch! As wisdom teeth attempt to break through the gums, they crowd surrounding teeth and can lead to pain, swelling, and infection.

The wisdom teeth that do break through the gums may be so far back that proper cleaning and care is difficult – leading to cavities or gum disease. But you know what? Not all wisdom teeth always need to be removed.

Some people only need one or two extracted. It’s important to remember that wisdom teeth are not inherently bad by any means.

Benefits of Removing Your Wisdom Teeth

  • Less clutter means fewer orthodontic problems

As wisdom teeth grow and emerge, they can overload your teeth, causing damage to adjacent molars. When there is no room left for them, wisdom teeth can cause alignment problems over time as other teeth are slowly pushed out. As a result, removing your wisdom teeth reduces your chances of having braces or other expensive forms of corrective surgery to correct misalignment. If you’ve had braces or corrective dental surgery, wisdom teeth extraction will reduce the chances of you losing your beautiful smile.

  • Preventing damage to surrounding teeth

Pressure from wisdom teeth can weaken and even destroy the roots of adjacent teeth or wear away enamel, leaving adjacent teeth vulnerable to decay and bone resorption. In addition, wisdom teeth themselves can be very difficult to reach and therefore need to be kept clean.

Fully erupted wisdom teeth are considered impacted wisdom teeth. These are virtually impossible to clean. Wisdom tooth extraction can save you from the need for costly and uncomfortable root canal treatment and fillings.

  • Reducing the risk of dental disease and infection

Vulnerable to tooth decay and other forms of gun disease due to the existence of wisdom teeth, especially impacted teeth. A common consequence of impacted wisdom teeth is gingivitis, which can be persistent and difficult to treat. An infection under your gums can affect nerves or enter the bloodstream, becoming a condition called sepsis that affects the rest of the body. Sepsis can be a serious and life-threatening illness.

  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pain Relief

In addition to preventing tooth decay and disease, wisdom tooth extraction has the added benefit of relieving simple discomfort. Reducing pressure, reducing gingival sensitivity, and reducing tooth sensitivity are all possible by removing those painful third molars. The result is a better quality of life and fewer restrictions on the foods and drinks you can enjoy. Pressure from wisdom teeth can also cause chronic headaches.

  • Preventing Cysts, Tumors and Jawbone Damage

Impacted wisdom teeth can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to cysts or tumors that invade the jawbone and cause temporomandibular (the sliding hinge) joint pain, severe, requiring specialist treatment.

Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Everyone has two options: to remove or not to remove. Of course, we’d all rather keep the teeth and not have issues if possible. However, if your wisdom teeth are causing pain, an infection, crowding other teeth, or are impacted – extraction is the way to go.

Not dealing with crowding, impaction, or pain? You may be the lucky winner of a pretty set of wisdom teeth. You get to keep yours! Either way, your dentist will be able to help you make the best decision for your mouth and body.

Beyond general symptoms, as long as you regularly meet with your dentist, they will take x-rays of your teeth and jaw. These x-rays will allow your dentist to predict the growth patterns for your wisdom teeth. Some people have space in their mouths, but many people do not.

If it looks like your wisdom teeth are growing in sideways, then they’re impacted and will need to be removed. Otherwise, they can lead to overcrowding, crooked teeth, and even gum infections. And yes, they can even push your teeth out of alignment if you’ve already had braces.

What’s the Youngest Age To Get Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The right age to get wisdom teeth is different for everyone. For most, the best age to get their wisdom teeth removed is around age 18. However, it’s usually recommended to get the wisdom teeth extracted before they grow in all the way. So, it’s possible to get your wisdom teeth out as early as age 13.

What’s The Average Age To Get Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The recommendation from the American Association for Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) is to get the wisdom teeth removed between the ages of 13 and 20. Depending on where you look, the average might be age 17 or 18. Please contact and consult your pediatric dentist to figure out the best age to remove wisdom teeth.

Wisdom Teeth Removal At 45

Getting your wisdom teeth removed after the age of 40 is often risky. At this age, it becomes more likely that the nerves next to your wisdom teeth might get damaged during the wisdom teeth removal process, which can lead to serious dental problems. Also at this age, your teeth will be more firmly attached to your jawbone. As a result, one of the risks of this oral surgery is damage to your jaw.

Find Out About Your Child’s Wisdom Teeth at Snodgrass-King Dentistry

If your child is a teenager, start talking to your dentist about wisdom teeth. It doesn’t hurt to get their early opinion and begin devising a plan for the future. And yes, that plan may change. But you’ll be prepared!

Have more questions? Give us a call or request an appointment easily online. It’s our mission statement is “We keep you smiling for life!”

So whether you need dental care for yourself or for your child, make an appointment at Snodgrass-King Dentistry today!

Preparing for Surgery

Preparing for your wisdom teeth removal involves several important steps to ensure a safe and efficient procedure. Here’s what you need to know:

Consultation and Evaluation

Initially, you’ll need a consultation and evaluation with your dentist or oral surgeon. This visit will likely include X-rays or 3D imaging to examine the position of the wisdom teeth and their impact on surrounding areas.

It’s also important to provide a comprehensive medical history, including any medications you are taking, allergies, and any previous surgeries, to help determine the safest approach for anesthesia and surgery.

Choosing the Right Anesthesia

An essential part of the preparation is choosing the right type of anesthesia, which depends on the complexity of your case and your personal comfort.

  • Local Anesthesia: Numbs the area around the wisdom teeth, suitable for less complicated extractions.
  • Sedation Anesthesia: Administered through an IV, this option keeps you relaxed and minimally aware but not fully unconscious.
  • General Anesthesia: Used for more complex situations, making you completely unconscious during the procedure.

Be sure to follow any specific instructions related to fasting—typically, you should not eat or drink after midnight before the surgery day—and arrange for someone to drive you home afterward.

Day Before Wisdom Tooth Surgery

On the day before your surgery, adhere strictly to any eating and drinking restrictions and confirm whether you should continue taking your regular medications or need to adjust your dosages.

Day of Wisdom Tooth Removal

On the day of the surgery, arrive at the clinic or hospital as instructed, well before your scheduled time to complete any necessary paperwork. Wear comfortable clothing and avoid jewelry, contact lenses, or excessive makeup for your comfort and safety.

Special Considerations

If you have conditions like anxiety or specific medical needs, discuss these with your surgical team ahead of time so that they can prepare to make your experience as comfortable as possible. It’s also beneficial to prepare a list of questions to ask your surgeon about the procedure, recovery, and follow-up care to clear up any uncertainties you might have.

Questions to Ask

Prepare a list of questions to ask before the procedure to clear up any uncertainties you might have about the surgery, recovery, and follow-up care.

By carefully preparing for your wisdom teeth removal, you can help ensure a smoother procedure and recovery. Make sure to follow all the instructions provided by your dental care team to minimize any risks of complications.

Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure

The surgical procedure for removing wisdom teeth is a meticulous process designed to minimize discomfort and ensure a quick recovery. Before the surgery begins, your chosen form of anesthesia will be administered.

Local anesthesia is applied via injections to numb the area around the wisdom teeth, making it suitable for less complicated extractions. For more involved procedures, sedation anesthesia through an IV or general anesthesia may be used, allowing you to be either deeply relaxed and sleepy or completely unconscious, respectively.

Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the oral surgeon will start the procedure by making an incision in the gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone. In cases where the wisdom tooth is impacted or not fully erupted through the gums, the surgeon might need to remove some of the bone covering the tooth. If the tooth is particularly large or positioned awkwardly, it may be divided into smaller sections to facilitate a more manageable removal.

After the tooth is extracted, the surgeon will clean the site of the removed tooth, removing any debris from the tooth or bone to prevent infection. This step is crucial for promoting healing and reducing the risk of complications. In some instances, stitches may be required to close the gum edges and aid the healing process. However, not all extractions require stitches; this decision is based on the extent of the incision and the surgeon’s judgment.

Finally, to control bleeding and encourage clot formation, a gauze pad will be placed over the extraction site. This gauze helps to absorb blood and should be kept in place for about 30 to 45 minutes after the surgery.

Postoperative Care and Recovery

Proper postoperative care is crucial to ensure a smooth recovery after wisdom teeth removal. Immediately following the surgery, you will begin the recovery phase, managing symptoms and promoting healing.

Immediate Care After Surgery

Bleeding Management

Keep the gauze pad over the extraction site for at least 30 minutes after the procedure. Bite down gently but firmly to help form a blood clot in the socket. Changing the gauze periodically is necessary until the bleeding substantially reduces.

Pain Management

Pain relief is typically managed through prescribed medications or over-the-counter pain relievers recommended by your surgeon. It’s important to start taking the pain relievers as soon as you feel the local anesthesia wearing off to manage discomfort effectively.

Swelling and Bruising

Swelling is a normal response to surgery. Apply an ice pack to the outside of your cheek intermittently—20 minutes on, followed by 20 minutes off—to help reduce swelling and bruising. This is most effective within the first 48 hours after surgery.

Long-Term Care

Oral Hygiene

Maintain a clean mouth without disturbing the surgical site. Rinse your mouth gently with salt water or an antibacterial mouthwash several times a day, especially after eating, to reduce the risk of infection. Avoid vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the extraction site with your fingers or toothbrush.


Stick to a soft or liquid diet for the first few days. Foods like soup, yogurt, and applesauce are ideal as they require minimal chewing and will not irritate the extraction site. Gradually reintroduce solid foods into your diet as your healing progresses.

Activity Level

Limit physical activity for the first few days. Strenuous activities can increase bleeding, swelling, and discomfort. You should plan to take it easy and avoid heavy lifting and vigorous exercise until you feel ready to resume normal activities.

Monitoring for Complications

Dry Socket

Be alert for signs of dry socket, a condition where the blood clot at the extraction site fails to develop, or it dislodges or dissolves before the wound has healed. Symptoms include severe pain at the extraction site, visible bone in the socket, and sometimes pain radiating to the ear.


Watch for signs of infection, including fever, severe pain that doesn’t improve with medication, and increased swelling or redness at the surgery site.

Follow-Up Care

Schedule follow-up visits with your dentist or oral surgeon to ensure proper healing and discuss any ongoing concerns. These appointments are crucial for assessing your recovery and addressing any complications.

Potential Risks and Complications

Although wisdom teeth removal is a common and generally safe procedure, like all surgeries, it does carry some risks and potential complications. Understanding these risks can help you monitor your recovery more effectively and seek timely medical attention if needed.

Common Risks

  • Bleeding
    • Some bleeding is normal after extraction, but excessive or prolonged bleeding may require medical attention.
  • Infection
    • The extraction site is susceptible to infection, which can be indicated by persistent pain, swelling, fever, or foul-tasting drainage.
  • Swelling and Bruising
    • Expected after surgery, excessive swelling or bruising may need to be evaluated by a surgeon.

Less Common Complications

  • Dry Socket
    • This painful condition occurs when the blood clot at the extraction site fails to develop or is dislodged, exposing bone and nerves. Symptoms include severe pain a few days after surgery and a visible bone in the socket.
  • Nerve Damage
    • Temporary or, rarely, permanent nerve damage can occur, especially if the wisdom teeth are deeply embedded. This might result in numbness or a tingling sensation in the tongue, lip, chin, teeth, or gums.
  • Damage to Nearby Teeth
    • Tools used during the extraction could potentially damage adjacent teeth or dental restorations, such as crowns or bridges.
  • Jaw Fracture
    • Extremely rare, but the jawbone might be weakened during the procedure, especially in older adults or in cases of extensive surgical procedures.
  • Sinus Communication
    • Upper wisdom teeth are located near the sinuses, and their removal might create an opening into the sinus cavity. This complication may require additional surgery to correct.

Managing Complications

  • Follow-Up Care
    • Regular follow-up visits with your dentist or oral surgeon are crucial for timely detection and management of any complications.
  • Medications
    • Antibiotics and other medications may be prescribed to manage infection and pain.
  • Immediate Attention
    • Contact your healthcare provider if you experience severe pain, swelling, fever, or any unusual symptoms following the surgery.

By being informed of these potential risks and complications, patients can be proactive about their care and are more likely to achieve a smooth recovery. If you have any concerns during your recovery period, do not hesitate to reach out to your dental care provider.

FAQs About Wisdom Tooth Removal

Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Wisdom teeth are often removed because they can cause problems as they develop and crowd other teeth, potentially leading to pain, infections, and other dental issues. Sometimes they are impacted or misaligned, which can affect your oral health negatively.

How do I know if my wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Typical signs include pain at the back of the mouth, repeated infection of soft tissue behind the lower last molar, cysts, tumors, damage to adjacent teeth, and gum disease. Your dentist will typically recommend removal after an examination and X-rays.

What should I eat after my wisdom teeth are removed?

For the first few days after surgery, it’s best to stick to soft and liquid foods that don’t require much chewing, such as yogurt, smoothies, soups, and mashed potatoes. Gradually reintroduce solid foods as your healing progresses and it becomes comfortable to chew.

How long does the recovery take?

Most people can resume normal activities within a few days, but the surgical site itself may take a few weeks to fully heal. The intensity and duration of pain and swelling vary, but improvements are typically noticeable within a week.

What are dry sockets and how can I prevent them?

Dry sockets occur when the blood clot at the site of the tooth extraction fails to develop, or it dislodges or dissolves before the wound has healed. To prevent this painful condition, avoid smoking, spitting, or using a straw during the initial days of recovery as these actions can disturb the clot.

Will I be put to sleep for the procedure?

The type of anesthesia used during wisdom teeth removal depends on the complexity of the procedure and your comfort level. Options range from local anesthesia, which numbs the area, to general anesthesia, where you are completely asleep. Discuss the best option with your dentist or oral surgeon based on your medical history and the specifics of your case.

Can I drive myself home after the procedure?

No, if you receive sedation or general anesthesia, you will need someone to drive you home. These forms of anesthesia can impair your judgment and reflexes, making it unsafe to drive.

What should I do if I experience complications?

Contact your dentist or oral surgeon if you experience severe pain, excessive bleeding, signs of infection, or other unusual symptoms. It’s important to follow up as recommended to ensure proper healing and manage any complications.

This FAQ section provides quick and accessible answers to common concerns about wisdom teeth removal, helping patients feel more prepared and informed about the procedure. If there’s a specific question not covered here or further details needed, feel free to add more questions or adjust the existing ones.