Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom Teeth

Many of my patients ask me the age old question, “Do I have to have my wisdom teeth removed?” The following review will help clarify this matter and discuss the many questions patients have about removal of impacted wisdom teeth, anesthesia options, and recovery.

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to develop in the mouth. If they erupt normally, this usually occurs between the ages of 16 and 25, a time in life which is traditionally associated with the attainment of Wisdom. When a wisdom tooth is blocked from properly erupting into the mouth, it is termed an “impacted” wisdom tooth.

There are several factors that can cause a wisdom tooth to become impacted. The main issue for most people is a lack of space in the dental arch to allow normal eruption into the mouth. The modern diet, which is softer than that of early humans, a smaller jaw structure, and the popularity of orthodontic tooth straightening procedures which produce a fuller dental arch are all reasons that have been cited to increase the odds of an impacted wisdom tooth.

The following are some serious problems which can develop from impacted or partially impacted wisdom teeth:

  • Infection – With resultant pain, swelling, and difficulty chewing and swallowing.
  • Damage – If inadequate room exists to clean around the wisdom tooth, the tooth directly in front, the Second Molar, can be adversely affected resulting in gum disease (bone loss) or cavities.
  • Pathology – Cysts can develop in association with impacted wisdom teeth which can slowly expand and destroy adjacent jawbone and occasionally teeth. Although rare, tumors can be associated with delayed removal of wisdom teeth.
  • Crowding – Your dentist and/or oral surgeon will consult with your orthodontist to discuss the possibility of your wisdom teeth contributing to future crowding.

As one can see, it is highly recommended to complete a consultation with your dentist and/or oral surgeon prior to the development of any of these detrimental conditions. A special x-ray termed a panoramic x-ray will be taken to determine how much room you have for your wisdom teeth to erupt. At the time of your consultation, your doctor will discuss the risks versus benefits of the procedure in great detail. Most wisdom tooth extractions are performed in an office setting under local, nitrous oxide analgesia, or general anesthesia.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize your comfort. The doctors at Dentpol have the training, licenses, and experience to provide various types of anesthesia to allow patients to select the most appropriate alternative. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety, utilizing modern monitoring equipment and staff experienced in anesthesia techniques

Following the procedure, you will be given detailed verbal and written instructions to make the recovery period as uneventful as possible. Medications will be prescribed to provide maximum comfort throughout the healing process. Ice packs to minimize swelling, soft foods, and avoiding strenuous activities for a couple of days are all beneficial in hastening the recovery period.

The ultimate goal of removal of wisdom teeth is prevention of any long-term problems and the attainment of optimum oral health. If you should have any further questions regarding the removal of wisdom teeth, please ask one of the knowledgeable staff or doctors at Dentpol.