When Do Wisdom Teeth Grow In?

Most San Francisco patients will have all of their adult teeth by the time they’re 13 years old, with the wisdom teeth being the last to erupt. Your wisdom teeth usually begin to erupt when you’re between 18 to 24 years old. Although patients of all ages come to SF Oral Surgery for wisdom tooth removal, the sooner you come in for treatment, the less the risk you’ll develop more serious symptoms.

Symptoms Wisdom Teeth Are Erupting

Because wisdom teeth are the last to erupt, most problems related to wisdom teeth involve teeth crowding in your mouth. The symptoms tied to this can vary from mild to very severe. While these are not the only signs that you need to remove your wisdom teeth, they are the most definitive symptoms that your wisdom teeth should be removed in the near future.

  • Swelling. Your gums, jaw, and cheeks are all prone to swelling as your wisdom teeth come in.
  • Pain. Your jaw and the very back of your gums, where the wisdom teeth will erupt, often become painful.
  • Bad taste. You may taste something bad even though you didn’t eat anything recently. This can lead to bad breath as well.
  • Jaw barely opens. More severe cases of swelling create difficulty opening your jaw fully and cause pain when chewing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Video: Watch Dr. Chan explain what is the ideal age for wisdom teeth removal.

Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, with about 70% of the population requiring this procedure because their mouths cannot accommodate more than 28 teeth. However, careful assessment by an oral surgeon is required to determine if the wisdom teeth will affect the rest of your teeth or align with your smile. Signs that indicate your wisdom teeth need to be removed include:

  • Impaction: When your wisdom teeth do not erupt and remain trapped beneath the gum and bone, they are impacted. Impacted teeth, especially when they are third molars, can lead to severe oral health problems.
  • Positioning: Wisdom teeth do not always grow in straight. If your teeth grow in sideways they may then affect the alignment of your bite and cause other symptoms such as pain and swelling.
  • Partial Eruption: Occurs when your wisdom teeth do not have the space to fully emerge. This makes you more susceptible to a type of gum infection called pericoronitis, which can cause muscle spasms in your jaw and the lymph nodes under your chin to swell.

While these problems all require wisdom teeth removal, each condition may cause slightly different symptoms and require a different approach to surgery.


Video: Watch Dr. Rittenbach explain whether or not you should remove your wisdom teeth if they are not causing any pain.

Consequences of Not Addressing Impacted Teeth

Your wisdom teeth, or third molars, are a completely unnecessary byproduct of evolution. Most San Francisco patients only have room in their mouth for 28 teeth. However, many patients come in because some or all four wisdom teeth have begun to erupt and cause severe discomfort. While this adaptation was helpful for our ancestors whose teeth suffered from a lack of dental hygiene, we no longer need these extra teeth and they often need to be removed if they are causing problems such as:

Bite Misalignment

Bite misalignment



Damaged Tooth

Damage to bone and adjacent teeth

Bacteria Infecting the Smile

Bacterial infection

Wisdom Teeth Oral Examination

To pinpoint the exact position of your wisdom teeth, Dr. Michael Chan, Dr. Kirsten Rittenbach, and Dr. Brian Yang will evaluate X-rays of your mouth to determine whether removal is necessary. Based on this and a comprehensive oral examination, your oral surgeon will be able to accurately assess the right approach for surgery.

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The Wisdom Teeth Removal Process

If you do require wisdom teeth removal, your oral surgeon will first administer anesthesia to make you comfortable. SF Oral Surgery recommends that you weigh the options for anesthesia carefully before choosing one and the options will be discussed in more detail during your consultation.

After receiving the anesthesia of your choice and recommended by your doctor, one of the oral surgeons at SF Oral Surgery will:

  • Make an incision into your gum line or around the teeth.
  • Remove your wisdom teeth.
  • Suture the incision with dissolvable stitches.

You will have time to rest after surgery until you are ready to go home with the help of a friend or relative.

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They were just so competent they made me feel like they know what their doing and the fact that my daughter also felt comfortable with Dr. Chan gave me the security I needed. 
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Recovering from Wisdom Teeth Removal

Before you leave the office, you will receive the following for after surgery:

  • Prescription for pain medication
  • Prescription for anti-inflammatories
  • Post-operative instructions

You will need to take at least a few days to rest after your surgery and limit your diet to liquids immediately after surgery. As you recover, you should incorporate soft, solid foods to give you the energy to heal. You will have a follow-up appointment approximately one week after surgery to check on your recovery.

Video: Watch Brittany explain what to expect after your wisdom teeth removal surgery and how to properly care for the surgical site.

To schedule your wisdom teeth removal, contact our San Francisco office at (415) 776-6710. You can also use our online contact form.

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