Your wisdom teeth are your third set of molars, and the last of your molars to emerge from the gums. Because they don’t appear until your late teens or twenties, they are called wisdom teeth, even though the “wisdom” of most people in their twenties or younger is up for debate.
Some people have wisdom teeth that are properly formed and positioned in their jaw bone, in which case they emerge and complete your set of healthy teeth. In many cases, however, wisdom teeth are misaligned or otherwise improperly positioned, and need to be removed.
When your wisdom teeth are not properly aligned, they can become angled in your gum tissue, or even be completely horizontal. That makes it impossible for them to emerge from your gums properly.
When they cannot emerge or can only partially emerge, they remain enclosed within your gum tissue, a condition known as being impacted. In some cases, your wisdom teeth can safely remain in your gums and do not create dental problems.
If they only erupt partially, bacteria can enter your gum tissue and create an infection. Even if your wisdom teeth remain entirely within your gum tissue, they can place pressure on nearby nerves and teeth. Either of these conditions requires extraction of your wisdom teeth.
The complexity of your extraction depends largely in part on the placement of your wisdom teeth, and the stage of their development. In some cases, extraction is very straightforward.
Other cases present more of a challenge and require an incision to access the tooth. If your wisdom tooth is embedded into your jaw bone, Dr. Hsu may decide to remove your wisdom teeth in small parts rather than as an intact tooth. That approach retains as much of your bone tissue as possible.
If you need to have your wisdom teeth extracted, schedule an appointment at John S.K. Hsu D.D.S. and Virginia J. Chin D.D.S., P.C. to learn what to expect in your unique case.
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