Wisdom Teeth and Extractions

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Your dentist may refer you to us for extraction of a tooth. This is usually because we have the specialized equipment that makes getting out broken, impacted, infected or otherwise difficult teeth much easier and less stressful. In conjunction with with a wider range of anesthetic options such as IV sedation or general anesthesia even very difficult teeth become uneventful.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third molars, and the last teeth to develop. It may take until your late teens or early twenties for them to mature and emerge from you gums. They are called 'Wisdom Teeth' because they develop at a time when you have made the transition from childhood to adulthood bringing with it wisdom - at least that's how the story goes. In many cases some or all of these teeth remain impacted, or trapped in the jaw bone and gums, usually because there is not enough room for them in your mouth. Due to advancements in dental care we no longer lose our first or second molars in childhood and therefore do not need these late developing teeth. In fact, wisdom teeth often do more harm than good; because of this, your dentist may recommend removing them and refer you to a specialist for care. See the above image to view a panoramic X-ray of lower impacted wisdom teeth.

What problems can wisdom teeth cause? 

Most people have all four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of their mouth, but each tooth may be at a different stage of eruption or position of impaction. In some cases the wisdom teeth may push the other teeth forward like dominoes causing mal-alignment of the front teeth. Sometimes problem wisdom teeth can cause local pain and swelling usually due to food or debris getting trapped around the tooth with no way of cleaning the area or you may not feel any symptoms at all until considerable damage has been done. This can be the case when the wisdom teeth decay and cause the neighboring molar to decay as well. In rare situations the sac that surrounds a developing wisdom tooth can lead to the formation of a cyst or tumor which eats away at the surrounding jaw bone.

What are symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth?

Hopefully, the dentist catches problems with wisdom teeth early. As long as you keep up your regular appointments and get X-rays your dental care provider can spot potential problems in time to prevent any issue. However, if a widow tooth is impacted and gets infected you might experience the following symptoms – these are usually signs for wisdom tooth removal:

  • Red, tender, bleeding or swollen gums
  • Jaw joint pain or aches
  • Headaches
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Halitosis (chronic bad breath)
  • A sour taste in your mouth
  • Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
  • Occasional swollen lymph nodes in the neck

What happens if I wait on wisdom tooth removal?

Many professionals go head to head on this very issue. Some dentists say it is best to remove wisdom teeth around the age of 20 and some say to wait and only remove teeth once there is a problem, especially in adults above the age of 30. No arguments though, the best results in dentistry comes from preventative measures. If you wait too long for wisdom teeth removal your jawbone and teeth begin to set. As they get harder, the third molars are even more difficult to remove and the procedure becomes even more painful and complex.

If you wait, you also have a greater risk of postoperative side-effects like sinus issues, heavy bleeding, damaged tooth roots in healthy teeth, and limited jaw movement. These symptoms might last just a couple of days or for the rest of your life. So what should you do? Always consult with a specialist to see where your teeth are and if problems are likely to arise. Then you can work together to find the best treatment options for your unique needs.

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What is involved in removing wisdom teeth?

The process usually starts with a consultation where the Doctor will review your medical history, examine your mouth and evaluate your x-ray. A recent panoramic radiograph gives the best information on root size and position relative to other anatomic structures in the jaw bone. Your particular situation will be discussed in detail so that you understand any potential risks and benefits of surgery.  Additionally, the Doctor will discuss various anesthesia options including local anesthesia (freezing), nitrous oxide (laughing gas),  IV sedation (light sleep) or GA (deep sleep). On the day of surgery you will be asked to come on an empty stomach if you are going to have a sedation or general anesthetic. You will also need to come with a responsible adult who will take you home and care for you while you are under the influence of the anesthetic medications. This procedure, which is usually done in our office, takes about an hour.  Any stitches placed will dissolve on their own. We provide an environment of optimum safety and comfort. Our facilities are equipped with modern monitoring equipment and our surgical team is experienced and trained in anesthesia techniques.