Wisdom Teeth: To Extract or Not to Extract

on November 20, 2013

Wisdom teeth are also known as your third molars and usually come in between age 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth are similar to other molars and, as long as they grow in properly and are properly taken care of, they will be just as useful as all of your other teeth. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth don’t always grown in properly and commonly prove to be more trouble than they’re worth. Today we will discuss different reasons for extracting wisdom teeth.

Impacted Wisdom Tooth


Some wisdom teeth are not properly aligned to erupt in line with your existing teeth. If this is the case, the teeth are said to be impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth that aren’t extracted may cause pain, infection, and damage to existing teeth later in life. Impaction may also be caused by limited room in the jaw or mouth. This doesn’t provide enough room for the wisdom teeth to fully erupt. Using a panoramic x-ray our Evanston dentists are able to see the position of your third molars and recommend extraction if they appear to be impacted.

Partial Eruption

Partially erupted wisdom teeth are harder for you to take care of, as you can’t access the entire tooth surface to provide proper care (such as brushing and flossing). As a result, these wisdom teeth can become food and plaque traps leading to tooth decay on the wisdom tooth or the adjacent second molar. In severe cases, the surrounding gum tissue can become infected and cause pain and swelling.


When impacted wisdom teeth are not removed, they begin to shift under the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth that shift towards existing dentition can damage teeth as they erupt. When they move in the opposite direction, towards your jaw bone; pain, infection, and swelling of your face may result. If this is the case, antibiotics may be prescribed prior to extraction to stop the spread of infection. As you can see, if your wisdom teeth do not properly erupt there can be many issues. As a prevention-oriented practice, our doctors recommend extraction of wisdom teeth as indicated to avoid infection and decay. Each person’s dentition is unique as their fingerprint, so our doctors work closely with their patients to determine the best possible course of action. If you are experiencing pain and/or swelling by your jaw and have never had your wisdom teeth removed, contact our office to set up an appointment with Dr. James Stephens or Dr. Robert Stephens.

Here’s what the ADA has to say about wisdom teeth:

SDManageWisdom Teeth: To Extract or Not to Extract