Wisdom Teeth

By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. For most people, this creates problems with eruption.  When a tooth cannot come into place properly, problems can develop from minor irritations to situations that may require hospitalizaton. 

The most common tooth to have eruption problems are the third molars. These four teeth are also known as “wisdom teeth.”

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen.  The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum or remain trapped (impacted)  beneath the gum and bone.

These poorly positioned or impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection or cavities in the wisdom tooth or the neighboring tooth. The result can be swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness.  The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jaw and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

Oral Examination

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Drs. Heldridge, Sato and O'Neil can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and discuss if there are present or may be future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Drs. Heldridge, Sato and O'Neil have the training, license and experience to provide various types of anesthesia for patients to select the best alternative.


In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed while the patient is asleep.  Other options for anesthesia as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications) and healing will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed  you will rest under our supervised recovery area until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication and a follow-up appointment in one week.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at Edmonds Office Phone Number 425-744-1724.

Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.