Wisdom teeth that are healthy and properly positioned can be a valuable asset to the mouth. Unfortunately this is not often the case, and problems develop that require their removal. For example, when the jaw is not large enough to accommodate these teeth, they can become impacted-unable to come into their proper place. They may go sideways, emerge only partway from the gum, or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impaction occurs most often in the third molars of the lower jaw. After examining your mouth and taking X-rays, Dr. Carpenter will discuss whether your wisdom teeth should be removed.


Extraction of wisdom teeth can protect the overall health of the mouth. It is generally recommended when the following conditions occur:

Wisdom teeth only partially erupt. This leaves an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection. Pain, swelling, jaw stiffness and general illness can result.
Impacted wisdom teeth continue growing without enough room, damaging adjacent teeth. This continued pressure can destroy the healthy second molar tooth.
Impacted teeth crowd adjacent teeth out of alignment, causing an incorrect bite or crooked teeth. A fluid-filled sac (cyst) or tumor forms, destroying surrounding structures such as bone or tooth-roots.


People between the ages of 16 and 18 should have their wisdom teeth evaluated. If they need to be removed, it should be considered before age 18 when generally fewer complications occur. At a younger age, tooth roots are not fully developed, the surrounding bone is softer and there is less chance of damaging nearby nerves or other structures. There is also less surgical risk.