Wisdom teeth, or the third molars, are the backmost teeth in your mouth, which typically erupt between the ages of 17 to 21 years. As they are the last set of teeth to erupt, often the jaw lacks room to accommodate them, which usually results in them erupting in peculiar angles or getting stuck (impaction). Although some impacted teeth do function harmlessly, most of them can cause major inconveniences. They can lead to a variety of problems such as food debris/plaque build-up, decay or gum and soft tissue infections, warranting their surgical removal.

What is wisdom tooth removal and when is it required

Wisdom tooth removal is a surgical procedure that involves the extraction or removal of one or more of the wisdom teeth present in the mouth. This is usually recommended when the existing problem cannot be resolved with medications or conservative treatment options. Any wisdom tooth that is impacted but isn’t causing any issue might not require removal. However, certain inevitable situations that require the surgical removal of wisdom teeth are:

  • Severe decay or caries

  • Infection around the soft tissues of the tooth (Pericoronitis)

  • Gum disease

  • Abscess/Cellulitis

Cysts and benign growths around the tooth

Procedure for surgical removal

The surgical extraction of wisdom teeth is technically more complex than a normal tooth removal and is typically performed by a specialist surgeon. The technique for removal depends on certain parameters like the angulation of the tooth, the amount of bone and soft tissue covering and the surrounding vital anatomical structures. If all the factors are favorable, it can be removed in a straight-forward manner. If not, it has to be surgically extracted from their sockets.


The surgery usually entails the following steps:


Cut made on the gums to expose teeth

Surrounding bone cut

Tooth sectioned in smaller segments (if required)

Tooth removed with special instruments

Sutures/Stitches placed to close the wound

While the procedure is being performed, the area around the tooth is numbed with an anesthetic injection. However, you may feel pressure when the tooth is being rocked back and forth for its removal. The entire procedure on an average, takes about 30-45 minutes.

What can you expect after the surgery

As with any surgery, you can expect a few minor post-operative complications after wisdom tooth removal. Some commonly seen complications include swelling, reduced mouth opening and soreness in the area of tooth removal. There can also be some numbness or tingling in the lower lip or chin temporarily in certain cases. Another possible complication includes infection of the tooth socket or ‘dry socket’ which results in a dull, aching pain.


Possible postoperative complications:


  • Swelling

  • Reduced mouth opening

  • Soreness/Tenderness

  • Temporary tingling or numbness in the lips/chin

  • Infection of the tooth socket

  • Bleeding

Instructions for home care

A few precautions that need to be taken after the surgery are to avoid:

  • vigorous rinsing or gargling on the day of the surgery

  • accumulation of food debris in the extraction site

  • drinking hot liquids or beverages like tea, coffee or soup

  • smoking and alcohol consumption

  • any strenuous physical activity



Recovery after wisdom tooth removal can be fairly simple if all the instructions are followed. Most individuals recover within a week after surgical removal.