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Wisdom Teeth Extraction

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that usually erupt during late teens and early twenties. Sometimes, wisdom teeth grow in straight, in which case they usually don’t need to be removed. Unfortunately, it’s common for wisdom teeth to cause a oral issues, including pain, infection, tooth decay, teeth misalignment. According to the latest studies up to 80% of wisdom teeth will require an extraction at some point.

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

Wisdom teeth generally erupt during one’s late teens or early 20’s.  Historically this third set of molars was named “wisdom teeth” because they generally erupt during adulthood.   Evolutionary biologists believe that our hunter and gatherer ancestors had larger jaw bones and a rougher diet, making these teeth very useful to grind down food.   Over centuries our jaw bones have become smaller and our diets consist of cooked foods that are easier to chew and digest.  Currently, wisdom teeth are mostly unnecessary for most humans and actually cause more detriment than benefits in our jaws.  

Due to our softer diets and shorter jawbones, most human mouths can currently comfortably accommodate only twenty-eight teeth.  The eruption of four wisdom teeth can create health issues, often resolved by extracting these unnecessary wisdom teeth.

Should All Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

At Smile Arts of NY we don’t believe every wisdom tooth needs to be extracted.  In our office, every patient is treated as an individual.  Our doctors evaluate wisdom teeth on a case by case basis. 

Some patients have enough room in their mouth to accommodate all four wisdom teeth.  They actually use these wisdom teeth to help them chew food.  Their oral hygiene is also exemplary so they do not get cavities or gum infections in their wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth causing Gum infections

For many patients, wisdom teeth are a nuisance.   Wisdom teeth can cause gum infections called Pericoronitis causing pain and discomfort in the jaw.  Extensive tooth decay is another common reason why wisdom have to be extracted.  A common dental emergency is gum swelling or tooth pain caused by the wisdom teeth which often requires a tooth extraction to resolve.

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause cavities in adjacent teeth?

Food impaction caused by wisdom teeth can create cavities in the wisdom tooth.  Cavities can also affect the adjacent nearby tooth.  This may result in significant tooth damage to the second molar tooth directly next to the wisdom tooth.  The second molar may require a filling, root canal or in some circumstances may have to get extracted because of the severe damage.

Cavities cause tooth pain when they extend deep inside the tooth reaching the nerves.  In many situations food impaction can also cause cavities in the adjacent tooth.  

More pictures of wisdom teeth with cavities can be found in our tooth extraction gallery

wisdom tooth cavities
Food impaction caused extensive cavities in the tooth adjacent to the bottom wisdom tooth, requiring a root canal.
Root canal completed because of food impaction
Root canal was completed to get the patient out of pain. Wisdom tooth requires extraction by oral surgeon