When Should Third Molar Teeth be Extracted?

In general, earlier removal of third molar teeth results in a less complicated healing process.  Third molar teeth are typically easier to remove when the patient is younger.  Their roots are not completely formed, the surrounding bone is softer, and there is less chance of damaging nearby nerves or other structures. Studies recommend that third molar teeth be removed by the time the patient is a young adult in order to prevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing. Younger patients can more easily arrange their procedure around school and outside activities or during vacation. 

Removal of third molar teeth at a later age becomes more challenging. The roots these teeth usually have fully developed and may involve nerves and other surrounding structures.  The bone of the jaw can often be denser and have a poorer blood supply as patients age.  Because of this, complication rates are higher and recovery tends to be longer in patients that have their third molar teeth removed when they are over 30.  Researchers have found that older patients may be at greater risk for dental disease, tooth decay and periodontal disease in the tissues surrounding the third molars and adjacent teeth. Infections involving these teeth can interfere with work and normal activities.  These infections may affect a person’s general health. Because lives become more complex as we get older, the scheduling of surgery and allowing for recovery can often be more difficult for adults.