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what to know about wisdom teeth

What to Know About Wisdom Teeth

March 08, 2018
Wisdom tooth, or wisdom teeth, is the common name for third molars. Third molars are just what they sound like. They are the third set of molars we get in our upper and lower jaws. Wisdom teeth usually come in between the ages of 17 and 25.  

Signs and symptoms your wisdom teeth are coming in normally include:
  • Mild pain or tenderness in your gums
  • Slightly swollen or irritated gums
  • Mild jaw pain or pressure

If you experience any of these symptoms, call your dentist. They’ll advise you on ways to manage your pain and discomfort. They’ll also likely want you to come in for an exam to be sure your wisdom teeth are coming in normally.

Wisdom teeth that come in normally and don’t cause any problems often do not need to be extracted. 

However, sometimes, wisdom teeth can cause trouble and need to be extracted. Here’s some more information about the situations that lead to wisdom teeth extraction.

Wisdom tooth pain
Mild pain or tenderness is come when wisdom teeth erupt. It’s just like when a baby gets a new tooth. Normal wisdom teeth pain can be managed in much the same way as you’d manage teething pain for an infant—with over-the-counter non-steroidal medication, cold compresses, and oral gels.

If you experience severe pain or develop a fever, call your dentist. It may be a sign that that there is an infection or that your wisdom teeth are impacted.

Impacted wisdom teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth are simply third molars that don’t have enough room to erupt, or come in. They’re usually blocked by your other molars from breaking through your gumline. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe pain and can only be diagnosed by your dentist. To determine whether or not your wisdom teeth are impacted, your dentist will need to take a dental x-ray. If your wisdom teeth are impacted, you’ll likely need to get them extracted to prevent further pain, infection, and damage to your other teeth.

Wisdom tooth extraction
Everyone’s smile and oral health needs are unique. Only a licensed dentist can determine whether or not wisdom tooth extraction is best for your oral health.
If your dentist recommends wisdom tooth extraction, they’ll likely refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are dentists who received additional training after dental school.

Before you schedule your wisdom tooth extraction:

  1. Review your dental coverage to make sure it’s a covered benefit. If you have a Delta Dental of Washington plan, create or sign in to your MySmile® account to view your plan details.
  2. Verify the specialist you’ve been referred to participate in your dental plan’s network. Our members can use our Find a Dentist tool to check.
  3. Get an out-of-pocket cost estimate. It’ll show how much your plan pays and how much you will pay for your wisdom tooth extraction. If you have one of our plans, create or sign in to your MySmile account to get your personalized out-of-pocket cost estimate.

Approximately 85 percent of people get their wisdom teeth extracted, or removed, at some point during their lifetime. It’s a very common procedure.

Talk to your dentist to learn more about wisdom teeth and any symptoms you may be experiencing.

Don’t have a dentist? Use our Find a Dentist tool to search for one near you.

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