Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth (your third molars) are the last teeth to come in and the last ones needed for good oral health. They may not ever erupt, or emerge from your gums until your late teens or early twenties, if they erupt at all.  Most often, they are impacted, or trapped in the jawbone and gums, usually because there is not enough room for them in your mouth.

Silent and serious problems can develop from impacted or partially trapped wisdom teeth. Infections as well as damage to nearby teeth can occur. Crowding and shifting of teeth in parts of the jaws is possible. In addition, since the area of wisdom teeth is difficult to correctly clean, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) problems are prevalent in the wisdom teeth as well as your second (12 year) molars.

Wisdom Teeth


More serious complications can arise when the dental sac that surrounds an impacted tooth fills with fluid and enlarges to form a cyst in the jawbone. Cysts can destroy good bone and cause permanent damage to the adjacent teeth, jawbone and nerves. If left untreated, tumors can develop from the area of these cysts and a more extensive surgical procedure would be required to remove the teeth and associated tumor.

Most recently, it has been discovered that the bacteria that collects around your 3rd molars invade the bloodstream and can lead to clogging of the arteries around the heart.  The clogged arteries are what causes heart attacks.  This bacteria also can lead to strokes and diabetes.  For more information please read the AAOMS 3rd Molar Study.

Even though you may not be experiencing any problems from your wisdom teeth, it is likely that they will cause problems for you in the future. No one can tell you when your wisdom teeth will cause trouble, but when they do, the circumstances can be much more painful and the teeth may be more complicated to properly treat. We recommend in most cases that you have your wisdom teeth evaluated by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon like Dr. Falcone between the ages 16-18. However, it is never too early or late to have your wisdom teeth examined. Certainly, if you are experiencing discomfort now or are unsure of the position of your wisdom teeth it may be prudent to schedule an appointment with Dr. Falcone soon.


Dr. Falcone can frequently predict through the use of x-rays and clinical examination when or if your wisdom teeth might begin to cause you problems in the near future or later in life. If your oral evaluation reveals a problem or a potential problem with your wisdom teeth, Dr. Falcone will most likely recommend their removal rather than wait for trouble to start. Surgical removal is easier in younger patients, as roots are not yet fully developed.  It is for this reason that a decision may be made to remove wisdom teeth prior to any discomfort or complications. This method of treatment will avoid comp- lications later in life. 

Although all surgery is serious and should be decided on carefully, modern oral and maxillofacial surgery has been greatly improved in the past several years. Many steps are taken to ensure your comfort before, during and after your procedure. Generally, you will experience some minor swelling and discomfort after your surgery. However, with personalized postoperative care given by Dr. Falcone and his staff, these inconveniences are greatly minimized.

The doctor and his staff are always available to answer any questions or discus
your personal situation.

We are happy to be of service to you!