Wisdom Teeth! What You Need To Know, Do They Need To Go?

Mark McOmieAsk Dr. McOmie Dental Questions

wisdom tooth extractions

As summer time approaches it is time that many teens and people into their early 20’s are getting their 3rd molars or “wisdom teeth” out. Some may even say it is wisdom tooth season! Here in Chattanooga it seems most of the time people want to get their wisdom teeth out right after school gets out. This is a very busy time for oral surgeons.

Getting your wisdom teeth removed is such a common procedure these days that it’s almost a rite of passage among teenagers. But why do some of us have to get them out, and why do we even have them in the first place? In today’s blog post we’re going to answer these and a few other common wisdom teeth questions!

Wisdom Teeth Are Remnants Of An Ancient Era

The most widely accepted theory about wisdom teeth’s origins goes back to our early human ancestors. Because they had a very different diet–mainly roots, raw meat and fibrous plants–they needed extra molars to grind up tough food. These days, we eat much softer foods. We also have smaller jaws that don’t fit in those third molars quite as well.

Wisdom Teeth Are Removed For A Number Of Reasons

While some people never get their wisdom teeth, they’ll show up for most of us between the ages of 17 and 21. Unfortunately, they don’t always come in the way they should, which is why a lot of us have to get them removed.

If your dentist recommends getting your wisdom teeth taken out, it could be for one of the following reasons:

  • They become impacted. This means that the wisdom teeth don’t come through and become trapped in the jaw, under the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can form cysts around them and do significant damage to nearby teeth and bone.
  • There isn’t enough space for them. This can cause damage to nearby teeth, crowding, and pain.
  • They don’t come in correctly. Wisdom teeth that come in partially or aren’t in the right position can make flossing more difficult, allowing food and bacteria to become trapped and cause problems.
  • Some dental work may require wisdom teeth removal as well. However, if your wisdom teeth come in correctly and you are able to clean them properly, you will most likely not need to have them removed. And that means that you’ll have some extra molars in your mouth to chew with—awesome!
  • A partially erupted wisdom tooth or (3rd molar) can be a major food trap. Then it is a matter of time before something becomes lodged in between the tooth and the gum. Then it causes an
  • Infection in the gum and un-relenting pain! Don’t let this happen to you.
  • Often times wisdom teeth are so far back that you can’t get a toothbrush to them without gagging. In this case often sooner then later, they get a cavity, this cavity can lead to an abscess and cause unbelievable pain. So taking them out before this happens is a wise decision.

Dr. Mark and Dr. Ellen McOmie can tell you if you need your 3rd molars extracted or if those wisdom teeth can stay. It seems about 20% of people are able to keep their wisdom teeth, but the rest of us need to have them removed.

Can Dr. McOmie Remove My Wisdom Teeth Or Do I Need To Be Refereed?

Great question, this is decided on in a case by case basis. Often times we do them and it can be very simple. However if there is certain bony imp actions or if a tooth is impinging on a nerve we will send you to an oral surgeon. Sometimes the teeth can be on a sinus floor and taking them out can risks a perforation into the sinus. We may refer you for these reasons and more. We do many many 3rd molar removals but we don’t hesitate to refer if needed.

Remember These Tips If You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Out

To facilitate healing after wisdom teeth removal, make sure you get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water and avoid alcoholic, caffeinated and hot beverages for the first 24 to 48 hours. And of course, everyone’s favorite part of the healing process, eat soft foods such as ice cream, yogurt, and applesauce for the first day. You can add in broth-based soups one to two days after the procedure, but stay away from hard or chewy foods for one to two weeks. Never use a straw after an extraction! The sucking action makes a vacuum in your mouth that can pull the clot out. This will lead to a dry socket.


Dry socket what is that? I hear it is painful.

When a tooth is extracted there is a socket that forms a clot in it. The clot is basically a scab that forms in the hole where the tooth came from. This clot is important as part of the healing process. Sometimes for one reason or another the clot comes out! Usually around 3 days after the extraction. With the clot gone the bone has air getting to it and it hurts. It hurts really bad. When this happens you need to call the dentist that removed the tooth. Dr. McOmie packs these extraction sites with special medicated packing. It makes it feel much better. If you have had an extraction and and it has been a few days and the pain has increased you most likely have a dry socket.

We Want What’s Best For Your Smile. We treat wisdom teeth removal on a case-by-case basis. We will monitor them closely as they come in and together, we will make the best decision for your smile! And remember, having your third molars come in may cause some discomfort, but if it causes pain, come and see us immediately. Unless you or you kid is in pain wisdom tooth removal is not an emergency. Taking out wisdom teeth can be scheduled at a convenient time for you and your child. Pick a time when you can have proper recuperation time such as summer break, spring break, winter break, Christmas, fall break etc. This should be something your family discusses and makes a decision about and schedules in advance.

Do you have any more questions about wisdom teeth? We’d love to answer them! Comment below or on our Facebook page to let us know!

Thank you for placing your trust in McOmie Family Dentistry and our highly trained team of professionals. We work hard to give you the best dental care available. So give us a call 423-899-1112.