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Wisdom teeth are a third set of adult molars located in the back of your mouth. They usually come in between the ages of 17 and 25. Some people never develop wisdom teeth, while others have them come in with no issues. However, for many people, wisdom teeth can create problems and need to be removed.

Why should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure to remove one or more wisdom teeth. If a wisdom tooth does not have the proper room to grow, it can result in pain, infection, or other dental problems. Most people have wisdom teeth removed for one of these reasons:

  • They are impacted. Since wisdom teeth are at the very back of your mouth, they may not develop properly. They can get trapped in the jawbone or underneath the gum.
  • They erupt at the wrong angle. Wisdom teeth may come in at a slanted angle, pressing against your other teeth or towards the back of your mouth.
  • Your jaw isn’t big enough. Your mouth may have no room for another set of molars to come in.

What to expect with wisdom tooth extraction

During the procedure

The surgery procedure should take around 45 minutes. Depending on the complexity of the wisdom tooth extraction and your comfort level, you will be administered one of three types of anesthesia.

  • Local: With local anesthesia, you will receive one or more injections near the area of each extraction to numb your mouth. You will be awake during the procedure and feel some slight pressure and movement but should experience no pain.
  • Sedation: Sedation anesthesia is administered through an IV line in your arm. During the procedure, you will have limited consciousness and feel no pain.
  • General: In some situations, you will be given general anesthesia. This is administered by inhaling medication through the nose and mouth, an IV in your arm, or both. You will be unconscious during the procedure and experience no pain or memory of the surgery.

After the procedure

Day of surgery

Wisdom tooth extraction is an outpatient surgery, meaning you will arrive and leave the same day. With sedation or general anesthesia, you will be taken to a recovery room after the procedure.

After surgery, you will slowly begin to regain feeling in your mouth. Some pain and swelling is normal. You can eat very soft foods after surgery, but should avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking, or drinking with a straw.


Most people fully recover from wisdom teeth surgery in three to four days. For those with wisdom teeth that were impacted or erupted at a slanted angle, it could take a week to recover.

The day after surgery, you can resume normal activities but should avoid any activity that could dislodge the stitches or blood clots. This includes strenuous exercise, spitting, smoking, or drinking from a straw.

By the third day after surgery, symptoms should be significantly improved. All pain and bleeding should be gone after a week. The wound will not be fully healed until after several months, so it is important to practice proper oral care to avoid any infection.

Some complications could be a sign of infection or possible nerve damage. Seek help if any of these symptoms occur:

  • fever
  • medication not dulling pain
  • swelling that gets worse over time
  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • numbness
  • bleeding that won’t stop when applying pressure
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