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Wisdom Teeth 


Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars.  Some people may not develop a full set of wisdom teeth.  Others may not develop any at all.  It is very common for wisdom teeth to require dental treatment.

Wisdom teeth can be a problem if they become infected, impacted, or threaten the alignment of existing teeth.  Impacted wisdom teeth remain underneath the gum or only partially emerge.  Wisdom teeth may grow sideways or in directions that may crowd or misalign other teeth.  Additionally, some wisdom teeth can become infected and develop a cyst or fluid-filled sac.

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Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include pain and infection.  A cyst may form if your tooth is infected.  Your gums or cheeks may swell near your jaw line.  Your jaw may hurt or feel stiff.  Impacted wisdom teeth remain beneath the gum or emerge only part of the way.  Wisdom teeth may be misaligned.  They may grow side ways or in positions that threaten the line-up of other teeth.

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You dentist can evaluate your wisdom teeth.  Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums.  Your dentist will look for signs of infection.  X-rays will be taken to view wisdom teeth that are underneath the gums.  X-rays will also provide more information about the position of the wisdom teeth.

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Wisdom teeth do not require treatment if they are healthy and in good alignment.  However, most people need to have their wisdom teeth removed.  Your dentist may extract your wisdom teeth or refer you to an oral surgeon for evaluation and treatment.

Before removing your tooth, your dentist will numb the affected area.  A pain reliever is applied to your gum before you receive a shot of pain relieving medication.  Some people may choose to be sedated for tooth extraction.

When your gum is numb, your dentist will remove your tooth.  In some cases, a few stitches may be needed to help your gums heal.  You will probably receive some antibiotics to fight infection.  Your dentist will provide you with specific after-care instructions. 

After-care instructions usually focus on pain relief and healthy healing.  Your dentist may recommend that you place a cold pack or an ice bag on your cheek.  You should avoid activities that may hinder healing such as smoking, drinking through a straw, and vigorously brushing or rinsing your teeth.  Your dentist may recommend that you alter your diet initially to include soft foods.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit