Wisdom Teeth

By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth – 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in your mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of your mouth (incisors, canine, and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth (molar teeth) are used to grind-up your food into a consistency suitable for swallowing.

The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Your wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within your mouth. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not need to be removed. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it usually happens in most mouths. Instead, extraction of wisdom teeth becomes necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. Otherwise, your wisdom teeth may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth cause an array of dental problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness. Additionally, 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 healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

Oral Examination

With an oral examination and x-rays of your mouth, Dr. Funderburk can evaluate the position of your wisdom teeth and determine if you’re experiencing related dental problems. He can also predict future dental problems that may be caused by your wisdom teeth.

Studies in this area have shown that early evaluation and proper dental treatment of wisdom teeth result in a superior outcome. Like most, you were probably first evaluated as a teen, by your dentist, orthodontist, or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Wisdom tooth removal is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize your comfort. Dr. Funderburk has the training and experience to provide various types of anesthesia and will work with you to determine the best alternative for you.


In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed with local anesthesia and light to medium sedation. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed.

Once your wisdom teeth are removed, your gum will be sutured as needed. To help control related bleeding, bite down on the gauze placed in your mouth. Following the procedure, you will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include detailed postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, antibiotics, and a follow-up appointment in one week for suture removal. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at Myrtle Beach Office Phone Number 843-448-5757.