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New Albany (812) 944-4000  / Corydon, IN  (812) 734-0125

Wisdom teeth, or third molars

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, begin to appear usually when a person is between 17 and 20 years of age. Wisdom teeth become impacted when they cannot erupt from the gum or can only do so partially. This happens because the human jaw has become too small over time to accommodate them. A majority of people will experience at least one impacted wisdom tooth.

What are the reasons for removing wisdom teeth?

  • Limited Space.
    Most patients do not have room in their mouth for wisdom teeth to successfully erupt in the correct position and alignment.
  • Disease Prevention.
    The eruption of third molars often leads to periodontal inflammation and disease.
  • Other Health Concerns.
    Impacted teeth often are associated with cysts and/or tumors. Removal of wisdom teeth in these cases entails increasingly complex surgery.
  • Crowding.
    Erupted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of adjacent teeth.
X-ray of wisdom teeth


When is the best age to remove third molars?

A recent study indicates that removing third molars before the age of 21 reduces complications and healing times. According to findings published in American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, recovery was significantly longer for all subjects older than 21 compared to younger patients.

Are postoperative complications more common for older patients?

Yes, risks increase as patients age. Healing times are longer. The return to normal oral (and lifestyle) function is delayed in older patients. Other health issues can affect recovery as well.

Do all wisdom teeth need to be removed?

No, but all third molars need to be monitored. Retained wisdom teeth can change position, resulting in inflammation and disease. When that occurs, these teeth are candidates for extraction.