Wisdom Tooth Extraction
The teeth usually called “wisdom teeth” are third molars, and they are typically the last four teeth to emerge from the gums. For most people, their wisdom teeth erupt when they are somewhere between the ages of 17 to 25 years old. This stage in life, the end of adolescence and the beginnings of young adulthood, often brings a new level of maturity, which is where the name “wisdom teeth” originates.
How Do I Know If I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Before your 904 Dental Care dentist makes a diagnosis and treatment recommendation, a comprehensive examination of your mouth is necessary. The dentist can look at the wisdom teeth and the teeth surrounding it to determine if there is a need to perform the removal, whether to solve an existing problem or prevent a future one. To get the full picture of what is going on, your dentist will take digital panoramic X-rays to check out the teeth’ position and surrounding bone and any other underlying issues, such as tooth decay or degradation.
At 904 Dental Care, we typically recommend that our patients be evaluated early on for wisdom teeth issues – ideally, in their mid-teenage years. Catching problems before they become especially severe is the best way to prevent more widespread damage and achieve optimal treatment results. Keep in mind that a comprehensive exam is the only way for patients of any age to know the full extent of their situation and for your dentist to make appropriate treatment recommendations.
How Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Work?
The procedure is usually performed in an office surgery setting using one or more of the following depending upon the degree of impaction and other factors:
- Local anesthesia
- Nitrous oxide sedation with local anesthesia
- Oral sedation with local anesthesia
- IV sedation with local anesthesia
- All of our 904 Dental Care dentists who perform wisdom teeth removal surgeries have been specifically trained to do so and have plenty of experience in the field.
- No overnight stay is necessary.
- Once the procedure is over, we will send you home with instructions on how to best care for yourself during your recovery. If you require any medication for discomfort, pain, or swelling, we will prescribe that as well.
Why Do So Many People Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
First of all, not everyone has to have their wisdom teeth taken out. But this is indeed a widespread procedure.
For many people, there is simply not enough space in the mouth to accommodate the wisdom teeth once they begin to come in. If the tooth has nowhere to go, it can get stuck in the gums in a potentially bad way. This phenomenon is called an “impacted tooth,” and it can lead to problems such as:
- Cysts or tumors
- Harm to other nearby teeth.
- Periodontal problems
- Caries and infection on the wisdom tooth or tooth next to it.
- Abscess of gingiva around the wisdom tooth
- Limited mouth opening
How Does an Impacted Tooth Become "Stuck"?
Depending upon exactly how the impacted tooth is situated within the jaw, it can be “stuck” in one of the following ways:
- Soft tissue impaction – the top of the wisdom tooth (aka the crown) has come up through the bone, but it is partially or even totally obstructed by the gum tissue. In these cases, the patient often has a tough time keeping the area clean, leaving them vulnerable to food getting stuck below the gum, leading to tooth decay or infections, both of which are painful.
- Partial bony impaction – another type of impaction that is particularly susceptible to infection. In these cases, the tooth has begun to make its way out from below the bone’s surface, but part of the crown is still located underneath the gingiva or gum tissue.
- Complete bony impaction – this means that the wisdom tooth has not erupted at all from the jawbone. In these cases, getting at the wisdom teeth to remove them is much more complicated, so such cases require a different approach.
Our dentists here at 904 Dental Care recommend wisdom tooth removal in cases where the patient is experiencing active discomfort, pain, decay, infection, or swelling, and in some cases, to prevent these symptoms from occurring in the first place.
I Have At Least One Impacted Wisdom Tooth. Why Not Just Leave It Be?
When left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can create several different problems, including but not limited to:
- Infection – when food and bacteria get stuck underneath the gums, infection can occur. Infections are, of course, usually painful and sometimes dangerous.
- Damage to neighboring teeth is a fairly common issue where the second molars, located next to the wisdom teeth, are damaged through their proximity to the impacted tooth. Some of the ways that the second molars could be damaged include gum disease, cavities, bone loss, and even damage to the root of the tooth in front of it.
- Disease – in rare cases, the parts of the mouth near the impacted wisdom tooth can develop tumors or cysts.
- Tooth crowding – some people think that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on the other teeth that have already erupted to the point that they become misaligned or “crooked.” There is no universally accepted dental opinion on this theory, and no scientific studies have ever proven it to be true. However, since many people do believe this, we find it worth mentioning here.