Commonly Asked Questions About Wisdom Teeth Removal

Oral Examination for Extraction of Wisdom Teeth

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Manuel La Rosa can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there are present or future potential problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist, or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, such as Dr. La Rosa.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Our doctors are trained, licensed, and highly experienced in providing various types of anesthesia for patients.

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Contact us for more information about Wisdom Teeth Removal or to schedule an appointment with Tacoma Oral Surgeon Dr. Manuel La Rosa.

Why should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

If you do not have enough room in your mouth for your third molars to fully erupt, a number of problems can happen. Impacted wisdom teeth should be removed before their root structure is fully developed. In some patients it is as early as age 12 or 13, and in others it may not be until their early twenties. Problems tend to occur with increasing frequency after the age of 30. Some of the possible problems related to not removing your wisdom teeth include:

A representation of a pericoronitis infection on a wisdom tooth


The most frequent clinical problem we see is pericoronitis, (a localized gum infection). Without enough room for total eruption, the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth can become irritated and infected, resulting in recurrent pain, swelling, and problems with chewing and/or swallowing.

An example of a cyst formation on a wisdom tooth

Cyst Formation:

Non-infectious diseases may also arise in association with an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts are fluid-filled “balloons” inside the jaw bone that develop as a result of impacted teeth and slowly expand destroying adjacent jaw bone and occasionally teeth. They can be very difficult to treat if your wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years. Although rare, tumors can be associated with the delayed removal of wisdom teeth.

An illustration of teeth crowding caused by a wisdom tooth

Possible Crowding:

Impacted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of your teeth. This is most noticeable with the front teeth, primarily the lower front teeth and is most commonly seen after a patient has had braces. There are a number of factors that cause teeth to crowd after braces or in early adulthood. Retained, impacted wisdom teeth may be a contributing factor. Unless you have an active problem when you see the oral surgeon, the reason for removal is primarily to prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums and jaw bone.

A visual of a wisdom tooth damaging an adjacent tooth

Damage to Adjacent Teeth:

If there is inadequate room to clean around the wisdom tooth, the tooth directly in front, the second molar, can be adversely affected resulting in gum disease, bone loss around the tooth, and/or decay.

What if I don’t have my wisdom teeth removed as a teenager or young adult?

As wisdom teeth develop, the roots become longer and the jaw bone more dense. When it is necessary to remove impacted wisdom teeth in your thirties, forties or beyond, the post-operative course can be prolonged and there is a higher complication rate. Treating these complications is often more difficult and less predictable than with a younger patient. Healing may be slower and the chance of infection can be increased. If your impacted wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years or early in your twenties and they are completely impacted in bone, it may be advisable to wait until a localized problem (such as cyst formation or localized gum disease and bone loss) develops. In general, you will heal faster, more predictably and have fewer complications if treated in your teens or early twenties.

What happens on the day wisdom teeth are removed?

Most people prefer to be unaware of the experience when they have their wisdom teeth removed and usually decide to be sedated. You will be provided with appropriate anesthesia options at your consultation. All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize your comfort. Our office staff has the training, licensing, and experience to provide the various types of anesthesia. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety, utilizing modern monitoring equipment and a well trained experienced staff. The Surgical Care Team, the office facilities, and the doctors are inspected on behalf of the Board of Dental Examiners on a regular basis.

On the day of your procedure, you will take medications to help minimize post-operative pain and swelling. We ask that a parent or responsible adult accompanies you to the office and plans to stay with you the rest of the day. The procedure will take about 30-to-60 minutes and you will probably be in the office for 90 minutes. Recent advances in medicine and technology allow patients to undergo wisdom tooth removal in a manner, which promotes rapid healing and minimal post-operative discomfort. State-of-the-art sterilization and infection control techniques are used at all times.

On the morning or afternoon of your surgery, it is essential that you have nothing to eat or drink (excluding prescription medications with a sip of water) for at least 6 hours (preferably longer). This does not mean you should try to fit in one “last meal” exactly six hours before your surgery. Having anything in your stomach can increase the risk for serious anesthetic complications, including nausea and vomiting. Your procedure will be rescheduled if you have not heeded these guidelines. We may provide you with a prescription for pain medication at your consultation appointment, which for your convenience, can be filled in advance. When you are seated in the surgical room, we will make every effort to make you as comfortable as possible. If you are going to be sedated, we usually will place an IV in your left arm. This is a quick and nearly painless procedure that ensures optimal delivery of your medication. Local anesthesia is given to you afterwards to ensure comfort, and allow adequate time to travel home and rest. You will be sleepy for a significant portion of the day.

A mom with her smiling teenage son

The Day of Treatment

Be sure to have an adult with you at the time of removal. Make plans to have a parent or responsible adult stay with you for the rest of the day, following wisdom tooth removal.

If your surgery requires stitches, these are usually the type that dissolve in 3-to-5 days and do not require removal. You may also notice a sensation of your gums feeling swollen and pulling away from your teeth. This is all part of the normal recovery, and will subside in several days.

Once the local anesthesia wears off, you may require prescription pain medication. Please try non-narcotic anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil®) first, to see if that adequately treats your pain. If not, begin your other prescription pain medication. The local anesthesia may last until the following day, and should not be confused with an injury to your nerve. We recommend starting your post-operative diet with clear liquids such as jello and broths, gradually increasing in substance as your body permits.

We do not recommend using dairy products such as yogurt, ice cream or milkshakes on the day of surgery, as nausea and vomiting may develop in conjunction with the anesthetic and pain medication. If you are given antibiotics and you take birth control pills, please be aware that the birth control pills might become ineffective and take appropriate precautions.

What does wisdom tooth removal cost and is it covered by insurance?

The fee for your treatment is determined by a number of factors. These may include the difficulty involved in removing your teeth and which type of anesthesia is best for you. During your consultation appointment, the surgeon will need to review your x-rays, complete an examination and determine the best option for anesthesia, before an accurate estimate can be provided. Every insurance company has a different policy regarding the extent of coverage for a given surgical procedure. The oral surgeon’s office staff will help you obtain maximum insurance coverage for your treatment.

What if I have questions before surgery?

At the time of your consultation, your specific situation will be discussed in greater detail. We encourage you to ask any questions you may have. If new questions arise after your consultation, please call our office at Tacoma Phone Number 253-564-1000 & 253-565-4700 to speak to one of our patient care coordinators.

A smiling woman

The Day of Treatment

Please do not eat or drink anything prior to your surgery. Having anything in your stomach can increase the risk for serious anesthetic complications.


Wisdom Tooth Removal Reviews

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Sound Surgical Arts

5 out of 5 stars based on 29 Wisdom Teeth Extractions reviews

Patient Testimonial

Professional care in all respects

- Janeice L

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Testimonial

Dr. Manuel La Rosa and is staff were absolutely amazing. I highly recommend.

- Kelsie A

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Testimonial

Dr. Manuel La Rosa was very kind and put me right to ease from the time of my inital consult. The morning of the proceedure he was friendly and the staff was great as well. I would definitely recommend them to anyone needing these services.

- Amy B

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Testimonial

Overall, I felt very comfortable and welcome. Dr. Manuel La Rosa explained in detail what I needed and how the procedures were going to happen. Everybody was very accommodating and accepting. I would recommend anyone and everyone to come have any procedure done here!

- Rylee S

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Testimonial

I recently had all four wisdom teeth extracted and was very nervous about the procedure, but I was very ready to finally be rid of my wisdom teeth as they were all beginning to come in and cause me issues. The day of the procedure, the atmosphere of the office was very calming, and the staff and doctor were very informative and kind. I was in and out within an hour and was given very detailed instructions about recovery and what to do if I had any issues. It’s been a week since my surgery and it has been the easiest recovery I could have hoped for. I have experienced very little discomfort/pain and am so glad to finally have those pesky wisdom teeth out of my mouth. I would absolutely return if I needed any procedures done in the future.

- Alexandria F

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Testimonial

I am so pleased with my overall experience there at Sound Surgical Arts and would recommend coming here for any and all of your dental needs. I am extremely fearful of all things dentist-related and was pleasantly surprised that Dr. La Rosa and his team of staff took the time out that I needed to answer all of my questions and concerns adequately, addressing all of my deepest fears. They made what was considered by me to be a very scary and daunting procedure, an easy and overall pleasant experience. My only comment afterward was that I wished that I had agreed to have the procedure done earlier. I should also add that my recovery thus far has been nearly painless. Not even a week out from having the procedure, I received a phone call to check on me and a sweet hand-signed card from the staff wishing me well, which was a nice personal touch!! With my fears eased and this experience behind me, I can look ahead to the future and the possibilities of getting more necessary work done with much less hesitation. I feel that Dr. La Rosa has given me a new reason to smile by opening the possibilities of what IV deep sedation can do for people with deeply rooted fears of the dentist, and I highly recommend this practice for anyone needing or seeking similar oral surgery.

- Melanie B

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Testimonial

I was so nervous and afraid to get my wisdom teeth extracted but everyone in the clinic made me feel so comfortable and immediately felt reassured about the procedure. I received a lot of emotional support from the ladies in the office and also Dr. La Rosa. I’m a small person and bruised a lot from the procedure but I when I called the office concerning my pain, they got me in the day of to check on me and the possible reasons. Turned out to be nothing big and I was further educated on how to care for my surgical sites. Post-Op care was also great! Im so thankful for Dr. La Rosa and his team! Thank you!

- Esther H

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Testimonial

It was a pleasant experience.

- Christopher H

5 out of 5 stars on