Your Guide to Wisdom Teeth Removal

by Michael Abdoney - 04/14/2024 -Teeth

In the United States, it’s quite common for adults to have oral surgery to remove their third molars, which are also known as wisdom teeth. Millions of people undergo this procedure every year. Our guide will help you learn more about what to expect before, during, and after the surgery.

What Are Third Molars?

Wisdom teeth are found at the back of the mouth, behind the second molars. They usually develop between the ages of 17 and 25 and are the last adult teeth to emerge. Most people have two of these teeth in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw, but some people have more, fewer, or no third molars at all.

Should You Remove Your Third Molars?

If your third molars are a source of pain or you experience other problems like oral infections, swollen gums, or crowding and misalignment, removing them may help. Even if you’re not experiencing these symptoms, X-rays may show that your third molars are positioned in a manner that could cause future distress.

Signs that your third molars may be problematic include:


If your third molars grow in sideways or fail to emerge from your gums, they can harm other teeth or become infected.


Exposed third molars can sometimes cause misalignment when they push against other teeth.

Poor Placement

Poorly-cleaned third molars can lead to tooth or gum disease and bone loss.

When Should You Have Third Molars Removed?

If you’re thinking about having your third molars extracted, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon. If X-rays show that your third molars could harm your oral health, you should have them removed as soon as possible, before they can cause problems. Although adults of any age can have this surgery, surgeons usually suggest removing third molars during a patient’s late teens or early twenties. During this stage of growth, the roots of their teeth will be shorter, their jawbone will be softer, and their nerves are less likely to be affected by surgery.

What Can You Expect During Your Preliminary Consultation?

Before surgery, you will meet with an oral surgeon to discuss the health of your teeth, take X-rays, evaluate the need for surgery, and go over the risks and precautions you will take if you decide to forego the extraction and keep your third molars. During the consultation, you can ask questions and express your concerns. Your doctor may go over your medical history, explain the procedure, and discuss your options for anesthesia. They may also explain how you should prepare for surgery so that the recovery process goes smoothly.

How Do You Prepare for Third Molar Removal?

Preparing for third molar surgery can help you feel more comfortable and less anxious about the procedure. Your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Stock up on groceries before your procedure.
  • Pick up your prescription medication in advance of your surgery date.
  • Create a relaxing recovery area with music, books, and movies that will help you pass the time.
  • Schedule a driver, a trusted friend, or a relative to take you home after surgery.
  • Schedule a few days off from work or school.
  • Schedule care for your pets or children as needed.
  • Wear soft, comfortable, relaxed-fit clothes to your appointment. If you’re receiving intravenous (IV) sedation, wear a loose, sleeveless, or short-sleeved shirt.
  • Avoid eating and drinking for eight hours before your procedure.
  • Avoid using alcohol and tobacco for at least eight hours before your surgery.