Wisdom Teeth

By the age of eighteen, the so-called “age of wisdom”, the average person has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors and canine teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food. The back teeth (premolars and molars) are used to grind food into a consistency suitable for swallowing which starts the digestive process.

The average modern mouth has the capacity to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are the third molars, also known as “Wisdom Teeth”.

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop. When there is extra room they can erupt and align properly. If the surrounding gum tissue is healthy and patients can adequately demonstrate the ability to brush and floss around them, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this usually does not happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth and sometimes healthy teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal of wisdom teeth is therefore recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

Oral Examination

With an oral examination and appropriate x-rays of the jaws, oral and maxillofacial surgeons can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid- teenage years by their dentist and/or orthodontist and are then referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia and monitoring to maximize patient comfort and safety. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have the unique training, experience and license to provide various types of anesthesia for their patients.


In most cases, the removal of impacted wisdom teeth is performed in the office utilizing Intravenous General Anesthesia/Deep Sedation with local anesthesia. Easier cases can be accomplished utilizing IV Sedation, Oral Conscious Sedation or Nitrous Oxide.   These options as well as the surgical risks (i.e. sensory nerve injury, sinus complications, infection and dry socket) will be discussed with you at your consultation appointment. After your surgery is finished you will rest under our supervision in our recovery room until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, you will be given postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication and sometimes a follow-up appointment in 10-14 days. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at (Erie Office Phone Number (814) 453-4491).

Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.