What Is Wisdom Teeth Removal And How Is It Done?

Wisdom teeth are third molars (back teeth used for chewing) that don't appear until early adulthood, when a person supposedly gains wisdom. Generally, this is the time when wisdom teeth are removed.

Why are wisdom teeth removed?

Wisdom teeth are no longer necessary due to our modern diet. In previous times, available food was tough to chew and actually wore molars down to the point where they were no longer usable for chewing. Additionally, poor dental hygiene contributed to tooth loss at an early age. These factors left plenty of space in the mouth for an additional set of molars.

Wisdom teeth are removed for various reasons, both preventive and for treatment of specific problems.

  • Your dentist may feel that your molars are too close together. When this happens, access to cleaning between teeth is limited, possibly leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Removal of wisdom teeth eases the overcrowding in your mouth. This is a preventative measure more than treatment of an existing problem. For this reason, some insurance companies won't pay for the procedure.
  • You may have an impacted wisdom tooth, which means it couldn't break through your gums because there wasn't enough space in your mouth. This could lead to infection or problems with other teeth.
  • A wisdom tooth may have grow only enough to puncture your gums. Gum tissue will grow over it and cause issues such as infection and pain.
  • A wisdom tooth may come in crooked because of overcrowding.

How is wisdom teeth removal done?

Your dentist, like Terrence E. Robbins DMD, Inc., will refer you to an oral surgeon. They will perform the procedure in their office or a hospital, depending on how many teeth are being removed and your overall health.

You will receive a local anesthetic for all procedures, and a general sedation for multiple or problem removals. The oral surgeon will open the gum and separate bone and tissue that are holding the tooth or teeth. If the removal is especially difficult, the tooth or teeth may be broken into smaller pieces and removed to avoid using excessive force. Stitches may be required to close the gum.

If the extraction is a voluntary preventive measure, the oral surgeon may remove both wisdom teeth from one side of the mouth, then remove the remaining wisdom teeth on another visit. This enables a patient to use one side of their mouth for eating while the other side recovers.


Pain and swelling should be minimal after a few days, but painkillers will be provided. Bleeding will occur sporadically for up to twenty four hours, so gauze must usually be kept in the mouth to aid clotting and to absorb blood.

Possible complications include infection and a painful condition called dry socket, which involves premature loss of the protective blood clot that forms over the wound. Jaw pain may also be present after the procedure, but should lessen with time.