Wisdom Teeth, San Francisco CA

Call San Francisco Office Phone Number 415-813-6400 to schedule a consultation.

On average most adults have 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. As with most things in medicine and dentistry every tooth in the mouth has a specific nomenclature.  Teeth are numbered starting from the first tooth on the right side, starting at #1, then continuing to the last tooth on the left side = #16.  Then the numbering is continued to the left side of lower jaw where starting from #17, the numbers continue to #32 on the right side of the lower jaw.

digram of the different teeth and their corresponding numbers

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.

Wisdom teeth are also known as “third molars” since they are the 3rd molar in each quadrant.  #1, 16, 17 & 32 are the numbers that correspond to wisdom teeth in the above chart.

Just like any other teeth, if a wisdom tooth cannot be properly maintained, then it should be removed to prevent future infections or health-related complications.

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth, around the age of 17-21 years old, with females typically 6 months ahead of males. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, due to our refined diet, this does not generally happen any more.  There are many theories out there that may explain why we have lost the need for our third molars, but the “Attrition Theory” makes the most sense.

The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped within the jaw 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 will eventually cause an infection. The result: Halithosis (bad breath), sinusitis, facial or gum swelling, stiffness of the jaw, jaw pain and systemic signs of infection such as fever or chills.

The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem from impacted third molars are the occurances of tumors or cysts around the impacted 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 further and  future destruction of adjacent teeth and soft-tissue.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

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Oral Examination

Only with an oral examination and a panorex x-rays (a special X-ray that shows the entire upper jaw and lower jaw, including nerves and maxillary sinues) or CT can Dr. Massoomi completely evaluate the need to remove a symptomatic third molars.  There ae countless nmber os studies that show, early evaluation and treatment results in better outcomes for the patient with less complcations. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their dentist or orthodontist.  Then if they notice anything unusual, the patient is sent to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.

Panorex-sample – full mouth x-ray


In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under IV sedation or general anesthesia in a hospital setting. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you in detail before the procedure is performed.

Once the teeth are removed, unlike other surgical practices, we do not leave the extraction site to heal on it own.  With every extraction site, we attempt to recreate the harmony & balance in the gingiva and the under-lying bone.  To help expedite the healing process and to reduce post-operative bleeding, we suture close every extraction site.  This leads to less complications after surgery and helps to get you back to normal more quickly.  Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include written postoperative instructions, prescriptions for all the needed medications and a follow-up appointment.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 408-253-6081 & San Francisco Office Phone Number 415-813-6400.