Wisdom Teeth

Did You Know

The incidence of cysts forming around impacted wisdom teeth varies from 0.001% to 11%, with a higher incidence in older patients, suggesting that the chance of a cyst/tumor increases the longer an impaction exists.
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Wisdom teeth get their name because they erupt or attempt to erupt in the late teenage years, a time when we are deemed to have achieved wisdom. By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 in each jaw. Quite often our jaws grow only to the size sufficient to hold 28 teeth; the last four teeth to form are the third molars – the so called wisdom teeth, and problems can occur if there is not enough space for them to erupt. When they align properly and the gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this often does not happen. Their removal may become necessary if they are prevented from properly erupting into the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum or even remain trapped (impacted) beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully.


These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted the opening around the tooth is difficult to clean which allows bacteria to grow and may eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from an erupting wisdom tooth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted wisdom tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal, during the teenage years, is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

Evaluation and Treatment

As oral surgeons, NYC doctors Swain, Zargari and Lustman can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems with an examination and radiographs (“X-Rays”) of the mouth. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment results in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon such as us. All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. We have the training and experience to provide the full spectrum of anesthesia for patients to select the best alternative. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety which utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.

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