wisdom teeth

Wisdom Teeth

What are wisdom teeth?

"Wisdom teeth" is the term that we use to refer to someone's 3rd molars -- usually the furthest-back teeth in the mouth on the top and bottom jaws.

Why do I need my wisdom teeth out?

The primary reason that many people need their wisdom teeth taken out is because there is no room in their mouth for the wisdom teeth to erupt. Sometimes a wisdom tooth can stay buried under the gum and in the bone, and never needs to be addressed. However, other wisdom teeth can be in a position that is very close to the tooth in front of it (the second molar); and when a 3rd molar is too close to the 2nd molar, it can lead to problems with the 2nd molar, including cavities and gum problems.

What does it mean to have an impacted wisdom tooth?

When we say that a wisdom tooth is impacted, we are referring to the fact that the tooth is at an angle. Teeth at an angle can be more difficult to remove.

Can you do a filling in a wisdom tooth?

Yes. We can sometimes do fillings in erupted wisdom teeth, but sometimes it doesn't make sense to do so. For example, if a patient is missing their upper left wisdom tooth, it doesn't make sense to fill the lower left wisdom tooth because the tooth is opposite an empty space! In this situation it makes sense to remove the unopposed wisdom tooth if it starts to get decay. But, for a patient that still has all of their wisdom teeth erupted in their mouth and in function (that is, the wisdom teeth are erupted like the rest of the teeth), we can certainly do fillings if there is decay and we can access the tooth.

Do you do crowns and root canals in wisdom teeth?

Rarely. Wisdom teeth are often so far back in the mouth that simply getting to the teeth to perform a root canal or make a crown is very difficult. Plus, root canals on wisdom teeth are not often performed because the anatomy of wisdom teeth makes successful root canal very difficult.