Dental Education Lecture: Young and Easy Wisdom Teeth

Raniece is 19 years old and has two wisdom teeth pulled.  The upper one (the left one in Fig.1) has much shorter roots (R) as compared to those on the right from a lady in thirties.  As we get old, bone (B) may stick to our root and comes out with the tooth.  Raniece's upper wisdom tooth has 3 short roots (Fig.1).  If we let them grow for 20 years, they may look like ones in Fig.2, long and widely separate.  The root may break off and the bone may snap during extraction (Fig.3). C: crown.

Raniece's bottom wisdom tooth has an abnormally large crown (the ones on the left in Fig.4 (cheek view, Fig.5 (biting view)), as compared to the one on the right with a cavity from an older man.  To remove the tooth with large crown, we need to split the tooth into halves.  When we take photos, red wax is used to stick the two halves together (Fig.4,5).  Due to short roots, the extraction of the bottom wisdom tooth for Raniece is not so hard.  However, one of the short roots is starting to curve.  If again we let it grow for 10 years, the curvature might be so severe that fracture of the root tip is unavoidable during tooth extraction (arrowhead in Fig.6).  

In brief, we should remove wisdom teeth as early as practical.

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 11/25/2009, last revision 12/21/2009