Wisdom Teeth: Essential Facts and Helpful Tips for Recovery

Wisdom teeth, the last adult molars, can develop problems like impaction and infections if there's inadequate space or they grow improperly.

Understanding Wisdom Teeth

Development and Eruption

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of adult teeth to appear in the mouth.

They usually develop and erupt during late teens or early adulthood.

There are typically four wisdom teeth that grow in, one in each corner of the mouth.

Wisdom teeth can cause dental problems if there is not enough space for them in the jaw or if they grow in at an improper angle.

Their growth and eruption can be unpredictable, and they may not emerge fully or at all.

Types and Complications

When wisdom teeth do not have enough room to grow, they can become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth are those that remain trapped below the gum line or grow in at an incorrect angle.

There are different types of impaction, some of which include:

  • Horizontal impaction
  • Vertical impaction
  • Mesial impaction
  • Distal impaction

Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to various complications, such as:

  1. Infection or pericoronitis: When a wisdom tooth partially erupts, a flap of gum tissue can form over the tooth, creating a space where bacteria can gather and cause inflammation and infection.
  2. Cysts: A fluid-filled sac can develop around an impacted wisdom tooth, damaging the surrounding bone and threatening the health of nearby teeth.
  3. Tumors: In rare cases, benign tumors can form, leading to the need for extensive surgical treatment.

Symptoms of Issues

When impacted wisdom teeth cause complications or dental problems, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

If you encounter any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a dental professional to receive a proper evaluation and discuss potential treatment options.

Wisdom Teeth Management

A patient reclines in a dental chair as a dentist examines X-rays of their wisdom teeth.</p><p>Instruments and tools are laid out on a nearby tray

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to develop and erupt into the mouth, usually between the ages of 17 and 251.

They may not need to be extracted if they grow in completely and are functional, painless, cavity-free, disease-free, and in a hygienic environment with healthy gum tissue1.

However, sometimes wisdom teeth do not grow in properly and can cause dental issues2.

Diagnosis of wisdom tooth issues is typically done by a dentist or an oral surgeon, who will examine your teeth, gums, and perform dental x-rays to assess the position of your wisdom teeth3.

Treatment options depend on the patient’s specific dental condition and symptoms.

In some cases, an oral surgeon might recommend simply monitoring the wisdom teeth to ensure they do not cause problems down the line3.

On the other hand, extraction may be necessary if there is pain, swelling, infection, or any risk factors for dental health issues4.

Extraction and Recovery

Wisdom tooth extraction is a common outpatient procedure done by a dentist or an oral surgeon5.

Before the extraction, patients may receive local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia to numb the area and/or help them feel comfortable during the procedure5.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, can also be used3.

During the extraction, the doctor might need to cut into the gum tissue to expose the tooth, especially if the tooth is impacted or trapped in the jawbone5.

After removing the tooth, the doctor may close the wound with stitches and place gauze pads to prevent bleeding5.

Providing antibiotics to prevent infection after the surgery is also a common practice5.

Post-extraction, patients should follow some specific care instructions for a smooth recovery.

These generally include:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed
  • Do not smoke or use straws to avoid dislodging blood clots
  • Rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water several times a day
  • Maintain oral hygiene by flossing and gentle brushing
  • Eat soft foods and gradually return to a normal diet
  • Use ice packs as needed to reduce swelling

Patients should expect some discomfort, mild bleeding, and swelling following the extraction.

These symptoms usually subside within a few days5.

It is essential to schedule a follow-up appointment with the dental professional to monitor the healing process and address any complications such as infection or dry socket, which may occur if the blood clot at the surgery site is dislodged5.

In summary, wisdom teeth management can vary from regular monitoring to extraction, depending on the patient’s specific dental condition, symptoms, and risk factors.

Extraction of problematic wisdom teeth can help prevent potential dental health issues and promote long-term dental health.


  1. https://myoms.org/what-we-do/wisdom-teeth-management/ 2

  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23223-wisdom-teeth

  3. https://www.aaoms.org/images/uploads/pdfs/Ebook_Wisdom_Teeth_R.pdf 2 3

  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wisdom-teeth/symptoms-causes/syc-20373808

  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wisdom-teeth/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373813 2 3 4 5 6 7