Wisdom Teeth Frequently Asked Questions

Wisdom Teeth Information: Carmel Valley | Del Mar | San Diego

Why do so many people have their wisdom teeth removed?

Wisdom teeth usually become a problem in adults, so we often recommend having them removed when you are still a teenager. Even if they do not give you problems now, chances are they will become an issue later in life. Removing them before they become a problem is your best option.

Most people have four wisdom teeth, which are molars at the back of the mouth. If they come in at all (and some don’t), they are prone to cracks and cavities because they are so tightly packed into the back of the mouth. There is not enough space in the jawbone for the teeth to erupt normally in most people. The result may be crooked, crowded teeth that push other teeth out of alignment.

What is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

An impacted tooth is stuck in the jawbone and can’t emerge from the gumline. If the wisdom tooth erupts but is partially trapped in the gums, it is referred to as a soft tissue impaction. These teeth are difficult to clean and often develop cavities. A partial impaction doesn’t fully emerge, getting trapped halfway out. The most severe form of impacted wisdom tooth is stuck in the jawbone because there is no room for it to erupt. As you age, the roots may grow longer and become entangled with nerves and tissue, causing pain and sometimes leading to infection.

What are the signs of a wisdom tooth problem?

Impacted wisdom teeth often cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Pain in the jaw or traveling up to the ear
  • Bleeding gums, especially when brushing or flossing
  • Tenderness and inflammation
  • Discolored molars
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty opening the mouth fully
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away

When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

The best time to get your wisdom teeth removed is before there is a problem and before the roots have fully developed. For some people, this may be as early as ages 12 or 13, while others may not have it done until they are in their early 20s. Most people have them removed between the ages of 16 and 18. We can evaluate your teeth, take x-rays, and determine the best time to have yours removed.

If you are concerned about your or your child’s wisdom teeth, please call us at to schedule a consultation.

How are wisdom teeth removed?

At Torrey Pines OMS, we perform wisdom tooth surgery in one of our operating suites. Dr. Sidal performs the procedure using anesthesia for your comfort and safety. The gum is opened so that Dr. Sidal can access the impacted tooth and remove it, breaking the tooth into pieces for easier removal. You will spend a short time in recovery before going home to recuperate.

How long does it take to remove wisdom teeth?

A routine wisdom tooth removal can take an hour or less per tooth. If the teeth are severely impacted, or the roots impinge on nerves or the sinuses, the surgery is more extensive and will take longer. As we age, this becomes more of an issue.

How long does it take to recover from wisdom tooth removal?

The older we are, the slower we heal. For quick recovery, it is best to have your wisdom teeth removed sooner rather than later. The teens and early twenties are most common. As we age, it may take a few days longer for the swelling and pain of wisdom tooth surgery to subside.

Should I have all my wisdom teeth removed?

If you have one wisdom tooth removed, it’s best to have all of them removed, reducing the number of times you have surgery. There may be situations when you don’t have to have them all removed. Dr. Sidal will evaluate your x-rays and discuss whether you have issues with any or all of your wisdom teeth to determine the best plan for your oral health.

What do I do after wisdom teeth surgery to stay comfortable?

The pain is mild to moderate after wisdom tooth removal. Still, there are several things you can do to minimize your discomfort and control any swelling, including:

  • Relax at home after surgery.
  • Apply ice packs for 20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling in the first 1-2 days after surgery.
  • Use moist heat to alleviate jaw pain 2-3 days after surgery – Do not go back to ice application at this point. Drink lots of water.
  • Eat a soft diet for the first few days.
  • Rinse your mouth gently with salt water a few times a day.
  • Open and close the mouth frequently to prevent stiffness.

What is a dry socket?

Most patients recover quickly with minimal pain and swelling after wisdom tooth removal. On occasion, the blood clot that protects the empty tooth socket dislodges, resulting in throbbing pain that can be severe. Always contact our office immediately if you think you have a dry socket. We can put a dressing in the socket to keep food and debris out and alleviate the pain. Dry sockets are rare and don’t usually lead to complications.

To learn more about wisdom tooth removal, don’t hesitate to contact Torrey Pines OMS at .