Wisdom Teeth

By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth. The top jaw, or maxilla, has 16 teeth, numbered #1-16. The mandible, or bottom jaw, also has 16 teeth, numbered #17-32. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the 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 food up 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?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. Often time there is insufficient room within the jaw to allow them to erupt into proper alignment. Furthermore, it is difficult to keep the associated gum tissue healthy. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth (impacted). They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.

These poorly positioned (impacted) teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness. 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.

Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the early to mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.


With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Roccia, Dr. Marsh, Dr. Singh or Dr. Faigen can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and assess any present or future problems.  Options for type of anesthesia will also be discussed with you before the procedure performed (i.e. local anesthesia, nitrous oxide, IV sedation).

We  would be happy to review your x-rays (radiographs) at the time of initial consultation to discuss your  case as well as all risks, benefits, and alternatives as they relate to your treatment.


All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under intravenous (IV) sedation which is used in combination with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and local anesthesia (Novocain) in the office. In some instances, the procedure may be performed in the hospital operating room on medically complex patients who require advanced monitoring. 

Once the teeth are removed, the gum is sutured with a self-dissolving suture. You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, you will be given a postoperative care package including but not limited to postoperative instructions, prescriptions, ice packs, and a follow-up appointment in one week. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-3222.

The offices of North Pittsburgh Oral Surgery provide an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques. Drs. Roccia, Marsh, Singh or Faigen have the training, license, and experience to provide various types of anesthesia for patients to select the best alternative. The doctors of North Pittsburgh Oral Surgery all possess Class I unrestricted anesthesia licenses in the state of Pennsylvania and have completed extensive operating room anesthesia and surgical training.