Rebecca L. Pounds, DDS

425 First Avenue, Suite 3
Pittsburgh, PA 15219


Wisdom Teeth: An Overview

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that typically lie just below your gumline until adulthood. Wisdom teeth begin forming around the time you are ten, but don’t typically erupt until you are between 17 and 25. Although some people never get wisdom teeth, most people develop between one and four. Some people even develop more than four, which is why you might have a friend or relative who has had wisdom teeth removed more than once.

Scientists and anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth initially formed as an evolutionary response to our early ancestors’ diet, which likely consisted of rough, coarse vegetables and tougher meats that required more bite strength. The harder foods are to eat, the more likely problems like dental fractures, excessive wear, and tooth loss could occur, which meant that this extra row of molars could have helped our ancestors stay alive.

The Problem with Wisdom Teeth in Today's World

In modern times, wisdom teeth that erupt healthy and straight can help people to replace missing back molars. Unfortunately, more often than not, wisdom teeth erupt crooked, strangely shaped, or even impacted—which means that they don’t completely break through jawbone tissue or gums. If adults don’t have missing molars, wisdom teeth can even erupt in areas where there isn’t space for additional teeth, sometimes growing in horizontally.

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe pain, poor dental alignment, or even deeply rooted infections. Since wisdom teeth can also be hard to clean, they are often more prone to dental decay. Because of these issues, Dr. Rebecca Pounds, one of the best dentists in Pittsburgh, may recommend having your wisdom teeth removed.

The Removal Process

Before your wisdom teeth are treated, Dr. Pounds will conduct a thorough evaluation of your dental health, the position of your wisdom teeth, and the alignment of your other teeth. If the wisdom teeth need to be removed, Dr. Pounds will talk with you about your surgical timeline and plan.

Wisdom teeth that have erupted through the gumline can be extracted easily just like any other tooth, while impacted wisdom teeth require a brief surgical procedure. During this procedure, an incision is made to expose the impacted tooth, and then the tooth is removed. The entire procedure takes around twenty to thirty minutes.

Dr. Pound’s office offers dental anesthesia for patients who are nervous about undergoing the procedure or who may have special needs that prevent them from holding still throughout the operation. Ultimately, your personalized surgical plan will depend on your current dental health, your overall medical health, and Dr. Pound’s diagnosis. However, Dr. Pounds will do everything possible to keep you safe and comfortable during the procedure.

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For safe, comfortable wisdom teeth removal, you can count on Dr. Pounds and her experienced team to take care of you. 

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Patient Recovery

Although some patients experience complications with wisdom tooth removal, such as dry sockets or infections, the majority of patients experience a very mild recovery that typically involves a small amount of swelling, tenderness, and bruising. While recovering, patients should eat a soft-foods diet and avoid sucking through a straw, which can disrupt blood clots and cause dry socket complications. Cold foods eaten with a spoon, such as pudding cups or bowls of Jello can help to alleviate swelling without putting the protective blood clots at risk. Patients should also avoid smoking as they heal from wisdom tooth removal surgery, since it can impede healing, and drinking alcohol, since it can dry out the mouth.

For more information about having your wisdom teeth removed, make an appointment with Dr. Pounds today!