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How many wisdom teeth to extract at once

Woman contemplating wisdom teeth removal

If you need to have all four of your wisdom teeth extracted, you might be wondering if it’s better to take them all out at once, or to extract two in one appointment and two in another.

In this post, we’ll explain why your oral surgeon will usually recommend all four wisdom teeth be extracted in a single surgery and provide a few exceptions to when multiple procedures might be preferred.

Benefits to extracting all four at once

Removing both your upper and lower wisdom teeth in one surgery is perfectly safe, even in the case of impacted wisdom teeth. Here are the reasons why this is typically the best choice:

  • Less recovery time: The difference in discomfort and recovery time between having two teeth extracted versus four is small. Why go through the healing process twice when you don’t have to?
  • Lower risk of dry socket and infection: Cut your chances of postop complications by only needing to protect against dry socket or infection once.
  • Save money: The cost of one procedure will be less than paying for two separate wisdom tooth extractions.
  • Less disruption: Having your wisdom teeth removed means taking time off work and disrupting your routines.

Reasons why multiple visits might be preferred

  • Patient requires a complex extraction
  • Patient will need each wisdom tooth extracted separately using local anesthesia
  • Patient currently has an oral infection at one or more of the affected teeth

What if only one or two wisdom teeth are bothering me?

Patients who only “need” to have one or two wisdom teeth removed right now sometimes ask if they can leave the others in place, since they are not currently causing a problem.

While this option is technically OK, most people will eventually experience discomfort in their remaining wisdom teeth or other issues later in life. Recovering from oral surgery is easier when you are younger, so extracting the non-problematic teeth as a preventative measure makes the most sense.

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