In many people, the third molars (wisdom teeth) are not functional teeth, meaning that they are not useful in chewing. Depending on their position in the mouth, they can be difficult to keep clean. Debris and bacteria can gather around wisdom teeth causing pain, inflammation, and cavities. Additionally, wisdom teeth are frequently blocked from entering the mouth because of lack of space — a condition known as impaction. More than 90% of the population has or has had at least one impacted tooth. Varying degrees of impaction in which teeth are completely or partially covered by bone and gums can cause multiple problems if not removed. Problems arising from impacted teeth include pain, infection, loss of bone and gums, damage to adjacent teeth, and can contribute to general health problems.

Removal of wisdom teeth at a young age can prevent long-term and irreversible damage to the gums and supporting tissue around the functional second molar. Between age 16-21 is an ideal time to have wisdom teeth removed because surgeons at BMC can predict whether or not there is likely to be a problem at some point, the patients recover quickly, there is less risk to nerves near the wisdom tooth, and healing is better.

A short consultation involving an oral and radiographic exam should be done to evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and potential issues. A surgeon will explain the procedure and the recovery from wisdom teeth extraction, as well as answer any questions. Removal of wisdom teeth is an outpatient procedure done routinely in the office under intravenous sedation.

Departments and Programs Who Treat This Condition


Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at Boston Medical Center consists of two distinct divisions: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology.