Understanding the Benefits of Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the final set of molars that typically emerge during the late teenage years or early adulthood. These teeth often cause problems and discomfort due to their location and size, leading many dental professionals to recommend their removal. In this article, we will explore the anatomy of wisdom teeth, the process of their removal, potential complications, and the benefits of undergoing this common dental procedure.

The Anatomy of Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are located at the back of the mouth, behind the second molars. They are the last teeth to emerge, usually between the ages of 17 and 25. In most cases, individuals have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of the mouth. However, some individuals may have fewer or even none at all.

Did you know that the scientific term for wisdom teeth is "third molars"? These teeth got their nickname because they typically erupt during the late teenage years or early adulthood, a time when individuals are believed to gain wisdom. However, the process of wisdom teeth eruption is not always smooth sailing.

The Role and Function of Wisdom Teeth

Anthropologists and experts in human evolution believe that wisdom teeth were useful to our ancestors, who had larger jaws and a diet that included more hard and tough foods. These teeth would provide extra chewing power, ensuring the proper breakdown of food for digestion.

Imagine our ancient ancestors, hunting and gathering their food. They relied on their strong jaws and powerful teeth to chew through tough meats, fibrous plants, and roots. Wisdom teeth played a crucial role in this process, allowing our ancestors to consume a wider variety of foods and survive in harsh environments.

However, with changes in our diet and jaw structure over time, the need for wisdom teeth has greatly diminished. Most people no longer have enough space in their mouths to accommodate these extra teeth, causing them to become impacted or only partially erupt.

When wisdom teeth don't have enough space to fully emerge, they can become impacted, meaning they are trapped beneath the gum line or against the adjacent teeth. This can lead to a range of complications, including pain, infection, and damage to neighboring teeth.

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are believed to be remnants of our evolutionary past. They were necessary when our ancestors had larger jaws, but as our jaws became smaller over time, wisdom teeth became unnecessary and problematic.

Imagine a time when our ancestors had a diet consisting of tough meats, roots, and nuts. Their jaws were larger and stronger, providing ample space for the eruption of wisdom teeth. However, as our diet evolved and our jaws became smaller, wisdom teeth started causing more harm than good.

Many individuals experience pain, discomfort, and a host of other complications due to the misalignment or overcrowding caused by wisdom teeth. As a result, dental professionals often recommend removing these teeth to prevent future oral health issues.

Wisdom teeth removal is a common dental procedure performed under local or general anesthesia. The dentist or oral surgeon carefully extracts the impacted or partially erupted teeth, ensuring a smooth recovery for the patient. While the removal of wisdom teeth may seem daunting, it is often a necessary step to maintain optimal oral health.

Next time you think about wisdom teeth, remember their fascinating evolutionary history and the important role they played in our ancestors' survival. Although they may no longer serve a purpose in our modern lives, understanding their origins can help us appreciate the complexity of our oral health.

The Process of Wisdom Teeth Removal

Removing wisdom teeth typically involves a series of steps, including a pre-surgery consultation, the actual surgery, and post-surgery care and recovery. Let's take a closer look at each of these stages.

Pre-Surgery Consultation and Examination

Prior to the wisdom teeth removal surgery, your dentist or oral surgeon will conduct a comprehensive examination of your mouth and take X-rays to assess the position and condition of your wisdom teeth. This evaluation will help determine the best approach for their removal:

1. If your wisdom teeth have fully emerged and are misaligned, extracting them may be a relatively straightforward process.

2. In cases where the teeth are impacted and trapped beneath the gum line, surgical extraction may be necessary.

During the pre-surgery consultation, your dentist or oral surgeon will also discuss the procedure with you and address any concerns or questions you may have. They will explain the risks and benefits of the surgery and provide you with instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. This may include fasting for a certain period of time before the surgery and arranging for someone to drive you home afterward if you will be under general anesthesia.

The Surgery: What to Expect

The surgery to remove wisdom teeth typically takes place in a dental office or an oral surgery center. Your dentist or oral surgeon will administer a local anesthetic or general anesthesia to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure.

Once you are numb or sedated, the dentist or oral surgeon will begin the surgery by making an incision in the gum tissue to expose the wisdom tooth and any associated bone. This incision is carefully planned to minimize trauma to the surrounding tissues. The dentist or oral surgeon will then use specialized instruments to remove the tooth. Depending on the complexity of the case, the tooth may be extracted in one piece or divided into smaller sections for easier removal.

After the tooth is removed, the dentist or oral surgeon will clean the extraction site and inspect it for any remaining fragments or debris. They will then close the incision with dissolvable stitches, which eliminates the need for a separate stitch removal appointment. Gauze will be placed over the extraction site to aid in clot formation and control bleeding.

Throughout the surgery, the dental team will closely monitor your vital signs and ensure your safety and comfort. The procedure typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour, but this can vary depending on the complexity of the case.

Post-Surgery Care and Recovery

After the surgery, it is crucial to follow the post-operative instructions provided by your dentist or oral surgeon. This will help promote proper healing and minimize the risk of complications. The specific instructions may vary depending on your individual case, but they generally include:

Taking prescribed pain medications and antibiotics as directed to manage pain and reduce the risk of infection.

Applying an ice pack to reduce swelling in the first 24 hours following surgery.

Eating soft foods and avoiding hard, chewy, or spicy foods that may irritate the extraction sites.

Practicing good oral hygiene by gently brushing your teeth while avoiding the extraction sites.

Scheduling and attending any necessary follow-up appointments with your dentist or oral surgeon.

During the recovery period, it is normal to experience some swelling, bruising, and discomfort. This can be managed with the prescribed pain medications and by following the recommended home care instructions. It is important to rest and take it easy for the first few days after the surgery to allow your body to heal.

Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with information on what to expect during the recovery process, including when to resume normal activities and when to contact them if you have any concerns or complications. They will also schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your healing progress and ensure that everything is going well.

By following the pre-surgery, surgery, and post-surgery instructions provided by your dental team, you can help ensure a smooth and successful wisdom teeth removal process.

Potential Complications of Wisdom Teeth

Although not every individual experiences complications with their wisdom teeth, it is essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with keeping them.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impaction occurs when wisdom teeth do not have enough room to fully emerge or develop properly. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to various problems, such as gum infection, tooth decay, and damage to neighboring teeth.

Infection and Decay

Wisdom teeth are notorious for being hard to clean due to their location at the back of the mouth. As a result, they can easily trap food particles and bacteria, increasing the risk of infection and decay. Infections can manifest as swollen, red, and painful gums, along with bad breath.

Cysts and Tumors

Another rare but serious complication of wisdom teeth is the development of cysts or tumors. These growths can damage the surrounding teeth, jawbone, and nerves, requiring extensive surgical procedures to correct.

Benefits of Wisdom Teeth Removal

While the removal of wisdom teeth may seem daunting, it offers numerous benefits to individuals who may be experiencing dental issues or complications associated with these teeth.

Prevention of Overcrowding

Wisdom teeth can exert pressure on neighboring teeth as they attempt to emerge, causing crowding and misalignment. By removing these teeth, you can preserve the alignment of your existing teeth and prevent future orthodontic issues.

Elimination of Pain and Discomfort

Impacted or misaligned wisdom teeth can cause significant pain and discomfort, ranging from mild sensitivity to severe throbbing pain. Removing these problematic teeth can provide much-needed relief and improve overall oral comfort.

Lower Risk of Oral Disease

By removing wisdom teeth, you can reduce the risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral health issues associated with the misalignment and overcrowding caused by these teeth. Maintaining good oral health is essential for a healthy mouth and overall well-being.


Understanding the benefits of wisdom teeth removal is crucial for maintaining optimal oral health. By comprehending the anatomy of wisdom teeth, the process of their removal, potential complications, and the advantages of undergoing this dental procedure, individuals can make informed decisions about their oral care. Consulting with a dental professional is highly recommended to determine the best course of action regarding wisdom teeth removal based on individual circumstances and oral health needs. Schedule a consultation with Niva Dental Specialists to see our board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

Related Articles

Check back soon for related articles.

we look

forward to

meeting you

Call (512) 881-8852 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.