Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery


Wisdom teeth are so called because they are the last teeth to come in, at about the time of young adulthood – presumably the age when a person gains maturity and thus wisdom. The majority of us have most of our permanent (adult) teeth by age 13, followed by our wisdom teeth (third molars), which usually push their way through the gums between ages 17-21.

Wisdom teeth that are healthy and properly positioned can be an asset. In most cases though, wisdom teeth remain impacted, trapped beneath the gum and bone and against the teeth in front of them. They may erupt only partially, often because other teeth crowd the jaw. Partially erupted teeth may tilt sideways and cause damage to adjacent teeth.

Regular dental check-ups are important not just for teeth cleaning but also to allow your dentist to track the progress and condition of your adult teeth. After examining your mouth and taking X-rays, your dentist can evaluate your wisdom teeth and discuss whether or not they should be removed.


Because they are so far back in the mouth, wisdom teeth often are not needed for chewing and are difficult to keep clean. Your Miles of Smiles dentist may recommend the early removal of impacted wisdom teeth because waiting until you are older can increase complications.

The surgical method used for your wisdom tooth removal will depend on whether your wisdom teeth are erupted or impacted and how deep the roots are. A partially or completely erupted wisdom tooth may be extracted with forceps. Occasionally, if the roots are deeply embedded in the jawbone, the tooth may have to be sectioned or bone removed. If your tooth is impacted, an incision is made in the gum to reach your wisdom tooth. The incision creates a flap, which is peeled back, exposing the jawbone. If the tooth is lodged in the jawbone, bone tissue that is covering the tooth may have to be removed. The tooth may be extracted from its socket in one piece or sectioned for easier removal.


Extractions can be performed under local anesthesia. Your Miles of Smiles dentist can discuss what types of anesthesia and pain or anxiety-reducing medication are available and suitable for you. A general dentist can perform basic tooth extractions. However, if your Miles of Smiles dentist anticipates a need for any special care, you may be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon – a dentist who specializes in dental surgery including the removal of impacted teeth.