What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are medically known as third molars. They are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. In many cases there is not enough space for them to erupt. As a result, they become impacted.
Why is wisdom tooth removal important?
The main reason for wisdom teeth removal is due to lack of space. By the time wisdom teeth grow in, most adults already have a full complement of teeth. Therefore, there is not enough room left to allow for eruption of your wisdom teeth in a healthy position. As a result, wisdom teeth are generally blocked out by the back molars leading to impaction.
Partially impacted wisdom teeth result in areas that you can not properly cleanse while brushing and flossing. As a result, you become susceptible to tooth decay and localized gum disease adjacent to those areas. In addition the pressure that impacted teeth place on the adjacent teeth can lead to pain and crowding of the adjacent teeth. Wisdom teeth removal is best accomplished at a young age before problems develop. Please contact us as soon as possible if you begin to notice any symptoms related to your wisdom teeth.
Frequently Asked Questions.
What age do wisdom teeth normally erupt? When should they be removed?
Wisdom teeth beginning forming during early adolescence. However, they don’t typically begin to erupt until around 20 years old. We recommend wisdom teeth removal anytime after age 16. The longer you wait to have them removed, the more problems ensue. In addition, the healing process and wisdom teeth removal in general is harder the older you are.
What does erupted vs impacted wisdom teeth mean?
Erupted wisdom teeth break through the gum tissue and align with the second molars in front of them. Impacted wisdom teeth remain stuck underneath the gums and don’t align with the adjacent teeth. Wisdom teeth can be fully impacted or partially impacted. Fully impacted wisdom teeth are not able to be seen in your mouth. They are trapped underneath your gum tissue. On the other hand, partially impacted wisdom teeth are able to be seen. They have erupted through the gum tissue but are not completely aligned with the adjacent teeth. In many cases, these teeth are aligned horizontally to the adjacent teeth. As a result, they are impossible to clean.
What if my wisdom teeth are erupted? Can I keep them?
If the wisdom teeth are fully erupted and are cleansable, then we may not need to extract them. In most cases there isn’t enough space for them to erupt, in which case they won’t be cleansable and therefore need to be removed.
Can wisdom tooth pain cause headaches?
Yes. Impacted wisdom teeth that become infected can cause a lot of pain. Patients typically experience radiating pain through their lower jaw and their ear when a wisdom tooth becomes infected. Tension headaches are common when this happens. Unforunately, pain medication doesn’t work very well when it gets to this point so it is important to have them removed before they get infected.
Will wisdom teeth removal help straighten my teeth?
Generally speaking no. Many patients have crowding of their lower anterior teeth as a result of pressure caused by the erupting wisdom teeth. Although your teeth may shift slightly after the wisdom teeth are removed, in most cases the crowding will remain the same. If you have undergone orthodontic treatment before having your wisdom teeth removed, it is recommended to have them removed as soon as possible after your orthodontic treatment is completed. We see many cases where patients complete Invisalign treatment or traditional braces and the teeth begin to shift as the wisdom teeth erupt. This is typically seen with lower tooth crowding.
What should I expect for wisdom teeth removal?
Wisdom tooth removal is a form of oral surgery. The procedure can be completed under IV Sedation, oral sedation (conscious sedation) or under local anesthesia only. You will be completely numb during the procedure. Therefore you should not experience pain. However, you should anticipate a period of moderate to severe soreness after the procedure is completed.
Do you recommend getting all of my wisdom teeth removed at the same time?
We do. It’s better to undergo the surgery and the healing process all at once. Regardless of how many teeth are removed at one time you can expect to be on a soft diet for 3-7 days.
Can I be sedated?
We offer Nitrous Oxide and oral sedation. If you would like to be fully sedated with IV medications, then a referral to an Oral Surgeons office will be necessary. Most patients do fine with local anesthesia plus oral sedation. If you are super anxious, we may recommend seeing an Oral Surgeon for treatment under IV sedation.
How many days should I request off from work?
We recommend at least one day off of work after the procedure. However, the procedure is ideally completed on a Friday so that you have the weekend to recover. Since the peak inflammation and pain after surgery is 24-72 hours this gives your body plenty of time to heal. After the first 3 days, you will begin to gradually get better every day.
Can a general dentist remove wisdom teeth?
They can. However, it is important that they have advanced training in doing so. Our doctors have attended post-graduate dental residencies with extra training in oral surgery. We offer oral sedation in our office, however for patients who are interested in IV sedation we will refer them to an oral surgeon.
What to wear to my wisdom teeth removal surgery?
We recommend wearing comfortable clothes that you aren’t concerned with getting soiled. After the procedure is completed, you will be completely numb. Your mouth will be packed with gauze to establish blood clots. Since you are numb, it is not uncommon for saliva/blood to ooze out of your mouth and onto your shirt. For those reasons, make sure to avoid wearing your nicer clothes.