Reviewed by Dr. Jason Fluckiger, DMD

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to come in. They typically start to emerge in your late teens or early twenties. However, they can cause various dental issues if there is not enough room in your mouth for them to fully erupt.

This blog post will answer 12 frequently asked questions about wisdom teeth, providing you with valuable information to help you make informed decisions about your dental health.

Table of Contents

1. Can wisdom teeth move other teeth?

The answer is, we don’t know! The current literature is conflicting. However, many patients present to our office reporting intense pressure and noted shifting of lower front teeth. We do know that the presence of wisdom teeth can affect orthodontic treatment and make moving other teeth more difficult. It’s important to have regular dental check-ups so your dentist can monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth and advise the best course of action.

2. Do I need a referral for wisdom teeth removal?

Not necessarily. While a referral from a dentist or orthodontist can help you find a trusted oral surgeon, it is not always required. However, if you have dental insurance, they may require that you be referred. Check with your insurance provider to see what is required and to find out your coverage details before scheduling your appointment.

3. Why is my wisdom tooth bleeding?

As wisdom teeth erupt, or if they are partially impacted, the overlying gum tissue can become irritated. This can be due to trauma from the opposing teeth and food being compacted against the remaining overlying gum tissue. Another reason could be poor oral hygiene, leading to gum disease around the wisdom tooth. This can cause swelling, redness, pus drainage, and bleeding. If you experience persistent bleeding, schedule a check-up with your dentist.

4. Can wisdom teeth cause swollen lymph nodes?

Yes, an infection in or around the wisdom tooth can result in swollen lymph nodes. 

Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that produce cells to fight bacteria and viruses. When there is an infection, such as an abscessed wisdom tooth, the lymph nodes in your neck may swell as they produce more antibodies to fight the infection. 

This is your body’s natural response to illness. If you notice swollen lymph nodes along with pain or discomfort in the area of your wisdom teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

5. Can your wisdom teeth fall out?

Wisdom teeth do not fall out naturally like baby teeth. They are permanent teeth and, if healthy and correctly positioned, can remain in your mouth for life. 

If your wisdom tooth becomes loose due to gum disease or tooth decay, it’s imperative to seek immediate dental attention. Left unaddressed, it could lead to more severe complications, including the spread of infection and bone loss, which can affect neighboring teeth.

6. Is an impacted wisdom tooth an emergency?

Sometimes, but not always, can impacted wisdom teeth lead to emergencies.  An impacted wisdom tooth can be associated with infection as well as various benign cysts and tumors. These may lead to serious complications if not addressed. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it means it is blocked from fully erupting. Some symptoms include severe pain, swelling, difficulty opening your mouth, and sometimes even changes in a person’s facial shape. 

If you experience these symptoms, it is essential to see an oral surgeon as soon as possible. Regular dental check-ups can help identify potential issues early and prevent the need for emergency care.

7. Can wisdom teeth cause an abscess?

Yes, an abscess can form around both erupted and impacted wisdom teeth. An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms around the tooth due to a bacterial infection. It can cause severe pain, swelling, and a foul taste in the mouth.

If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body, leading to more serious health problems. It’s crucial to seek professional dental care if you suspect you have an abscess. Your dentist or oral surgeon can effectively diagnose and treat this condition to prevent further complications.

8. Can wisdom teeth get cavities?

Yes, wisdom teeth can get cavities just like any other teeth. Because of their location at the very back of the mouth, wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean effectively with regular brushing and flossing. This makes them more susceptible to plaque build-up and eventually cavities. 

If cavities on wisdom teeth go untreated, they can lead to more serious dental issues such as infections or abscesses. 

Regular dental check-ups can help detect cavities early and allow for timely treatment. If a cavity is found on a wisdom tooth, your dentist or oral surgeon will discuss the best treatment option.

9. How do you know if your wisdom teeth are infected?

Recognizing the signs of an infected wisdom tooth is crucial to prevent further complications. Here are some symptoms which may indicate an infection:

  • Pain or swelling in the jaw or gum area around the wisdom tooth
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, indicating possible presence of pus
  • Trouble opening your mouth or difficulty with swallowing
  • Fever
  • Red or inflamed gums around the wisdom tooth

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon promptly. They can assess your situation, confirm the presence of an infection, and provide the appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics, drainage of the infection, or in some cases, removal of the wisdom tooth.

10. Is it better to get wisdom teeth out early?

The ideal time to remove wisdom teeth can vary greatly between individuals, often depending on personal dental health and the alignment of the teeth. Some people may never need their wisdom teeth removed if they are healthy, fully erupted, and properly aligned. 

However, dentists and oral surgeons often recommend early removal of wisdom teeth, usually in the late teens or early twenties, for several reasons. Firstly, younger individuals typically have less developed roots and softer bone, which can make the extraction process easier and potentially reduce recovery time. 

Additionally, removing wisdom teeth before they cause problems can prevent issues like impaction, infection, cysts, and damage to surrounding teeth. Dental check-ups and X-rays can provide valuable insight into the status of your wisdom teeth and aid in making an informed decision regarding extraction.

11. What is an erupted wisdom tooth?

An erupted wisdom tooth is a wisdom tooth that has fully broken through the gum tissue and is now visible in the mouth. Just like any other teeth, wisdom teeth (also known as third molars) develop and ‘erupt’ usually between the ages of 17 and 21. 

When a wisdom tooth successfully erupts through the gum line and aligns properly with adjacent teeth and opposing teeth in the opposite jaw, it is considered healthy and might not need removal. Problems can occur if the tooth is misaligned or impacted. 

It’s important to have regular dental check-ups to monitor the condition and positioning of erupted wisdom teeth, ensuring they contribute positively to your overall oral health.

12. Do wisdom teeth cause bad breath?

Yes, wisdom teeth can contribute to bad breath or halitosis. This is particularly common if the wisdom teeth are partially erupted, impacted, or infected. Small pieces of food can get trapped in the area around the wisdom tooth, which can be hard to clean effectively due to its location in the back of the mouth. As the food decays, it can cause an unpleasant odor. 

An infection or abscess in a wisdom tooth can produce a foul taste and smell in the mouth. Regular dental hygiene practices, such as brushing, flossing, and using antibacterial mouthwash can help to manage this issue. 

Persistent bad breath despite maintaining good oral hygiene could be a sign of a more serious issue with wisdom teeth and should be evaluated by a dental professional. They can provide appropriate advice and treatment options based on your individual needs, which may include a deep cleaning, antibiotics for an infection, or extraction of the problematic wisdom tooth.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Mesa AZ

If you are experiencing any symptoms related to wisdom teeth, it’s important to seek professional dental care. Our team at AZ Max Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons in Mesa, Queen Creek, Tempe, and Show Low is highly experienced in diagnosing and treating issues with wisdom teeth. We offer a variety of services, including wisdom tooth extraction, to help alleviate pain and prevent further complications.

If you are searching for ‘wisdom teeth removal near me’ or ‘the best oral surgeon near me for wisdom teeth removal,’ we can help. To book an appointment at one of our five locations, call or text (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form.