Frequently Asked Questions About Wisdom Teeth Surgery

As the last of your 32 teeth to erupt, impacted wisdom teeth is a common problem that dentists see every day in people’s mouths.

Here are some of the most asked questions that dentists hear about wisdom teeth.

Modern dental office
Musketeer / Getty Images

How Old Do You Need to Be to Have Them Removed? 

Wisdom teeth erupt from the age of 18-25. Depending on the type and severity of impacted teeth, you may need wisdom teeth removed anywhere around the age of 17-18. It’s possible to remove wisdom teeth at any age; however, serious complications in surgery are less likely in young adults in their teens and early 20s since the undeveloped wisdom tooth roots and a less dense jaw bone make removal easier.


Click Play to Learn All About Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery

This video has been medically reviewed by Anju Goel, MD, MPH.

Symptoms of Impaction

An impacted wisdom tooth usually is associated with pain and toothache but can accompany a range of symptoms including:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Damage to neighboring teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)

Do You Still Need Them Removed If They Don't Hurt?

Not necessarily. Impacted wisdom teeth may never present with symptoms yet still can put you at risk of potential complications.

Even If They're Impacted Do You Need Them Removed?

If your wisdom teeth are impacted it doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be removed. Your dentist will need to assess the history of symptoms and risk of subsequent complications in order to make a decision. Sometimes there may be a decision to monitor impacted wisdom teeth with regular check-ups.

Complications of Impactions

Complications of impacted wisdom teeth include damage to other teeth, swelling or abscesses, decay to surrounding teeth and gum disease. Each of these conditions is related to your wisdom tooth not erupting properly into the mouth which can create food traps that are difficult to clean and cause infection.

Will You Have Problems If You Don’t Get Them Removed?

If your dentist has advised that you need wisdom teeth removed, you may be at risk of complications in which will be prevented if you have your wisdom teeth removed.

How Will Your Dentist Decide If You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

Your dentist will perform a full dental examination, including a history of your symptoms and health, assessment of your teeth and gums and dental imagery including x-rays that will confirm the diagnosis of your impacted wisdom teeth.


Depending on the severity of your impacted wisdom tooth there are various risks of surgery. These include pain and swelling of the gums and around the socket of the extracted tooth. Bleeding for up to 24 hours. Difficulty in opening your mouth and jaw. Damage to existing teeth. Dry socket, which is an inflammation of the socket. Numbness of the lip, tongue, and mouth after the anesthetic wears off due to inflammation or damage to nerves running through the jaw.

Recovery Time After Surgery

Generally the recovery period is a few days, you may need to plan some time off work. However, in some cases, swelling, pain, and jaw opening may be affected for weeks after the procedure. Whilst discomfort is a normal side effect of wisdom tooth surgery if you experience unusual symptoms like pus discharge, large swelling, severe pain or swelling you should contact your dental surgeon.

Treatment Options

You have two options to have wisdom teeth removed. The first is under local anesthesia in the dental chair. The second is under dental sedation or general anesthesia, which may be performed by an oral surgeon. Your practitioner will advise which is best for you.

Is It Normal to Be Anxious Before Surgery?

Yes! Many people experience dental fear before a procedure. If you’re feeling uneasy about the things you should discuss it with your dental health practitioner.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Renton T, Wilson NHF. Problems with erupting wisdom teeth: signs, symptoms, and management. Br J Gen Pract. 2016;66(649):e606-e608. doi. 10.3399%2Fbjgp16X686509

  2. University of Michigan Health. Wisdom Tooth Extraction.

  3. American Dental Association MouthHealthy. Wisdom Teeth.

  4. Mount Sinai. Impacted Tooth.

  5. Should you have your wisdome teeth removed?

  6. American Dental Association MouthHealthy. Wisdom Teeth.

  7. University of Michigan Health. Wisdom Tooth Extraction.

By Steven Lin, DDS
Steven Lin, DDS, is a dentist, TEDx speaker, health educator, and author.