Wisdom Teeth

By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom.  

The average mouth holds 28 teeth. It can be painful when four additional teeth attempt to fit in the mouth. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed.  The extraction of wisdom teeth becomes necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.  These impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt.

Poorly positioned or impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow that will eventually cause an infection. The result is swelling, stiffness, pain, and even systemic illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and adjacent healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid future 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. Lalli or Dr. Higashi can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and assess for acute or the possibility of 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 an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort.  Dr. Lalli and Dr. Higashi have the appropriate training, licensing and experience to provide the best anesthesia for each patient.


In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Occasionally, local anesthesia and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is utilized. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve changes and sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gums are sutured. To help control bleeding, bite down on the gauze placed in your mouth. You will rest and recover under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your post-operative kit will include post-surgical instructions, prescriptions for pain medications & antibiotics, and follow-up contact information. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at Calgary Office Phone Number 403-286-5000.

Our infection control, anesthesia and surgical services follow the guidelines provided by the College of Physicians & Surgeons and the Alberta Dental Association & College. We utilize the appropriate monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques. The surgical team and recovery personnel have the mandatory ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), PALS and CPR training.