Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. There may or may not be sufficient space for these teeth to come into position in proper alignment. They are termed ‘impacted' if the teeth do not come into your dental arch properly. The number of wisdom teeth that people have varies but four is most common (two each jaw). Most patients are aware of their wisdom teeth as they start to come through and cause pain. This usually presents between ages 16-25 but may present at any time.


Wisdom teeth may be painful or not painful with the presence or absence of disease. Examples of disease include:

  • Untreatable tooth decay

  • Abscesses

  • Cysts or tumours

  • Disease of the tissues around the tooth

  • Damage to the adjacent tooth

  • Or, if the tooth is in the way for other dental treatment to be carried out.

Teeth with disease may be asymptomatic (not painful). It is therefore advisable to have regular check-ups and radiographs with your dental practitioner.


It may be recommended that your wisdom teeth (one or more) be removed. You may be referred to an Oral Surgeon for this procedure by your dentist. This is usually dependent on the difficulty of your particular teeth, the experience of your practitioner, or if you wish to see a specialist.


In general, wisdom teeth are removed surgically. This will include making a small incision in your gum, removing a small portion of bone around the tooth, dividing the tooth into segments to lift them out, then closing the gum back over with dissolvable stitches.


The decision is to be made on the type of anaesthesia used for the procedure. If the surgery is fairly simple, LOCAL ANAESTHETIC may be most appropriate. This is the same as when you have a dental filling placed. A small amount of anaesthetic is administered around the tooth.

For some people, it may be recommended that a GENERAL ANAESTHETIC is required. This is administered by a Specialist Anaesthetist in a private hospital/day surgery. It may be more appropriate in people who:

  • Have wisdom teeth that may be more difficult to remove

  • Do not want to remain awake during the surgery

  • Need multiple teeth removed