By early adulthood, usually between the ages of 15 and 25, the average person has 32 teeth – 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Every tooth has its own unique function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canines and bicuspids) are used for gripping food and biting off smaller portions of it. The rear teeth (molars) have the responsibility of chewing food up until it is small enough to swallow.
Most mouths are not large enough to support 32 teeth. It can be painful when the third molars, or wisdom teeth, erupt if there is insufficient room for them.
Wisdom Tooth Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom tooth extraction, we offer the following multimedia presentation. It addresses many common questions pertaining to wisdom tooth extraction.
Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth appear at the very back of the mouth and they are the last teeth to erupt. When they are correctly aligned and the surrounding gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth pose no threat and do not require removal. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. The extraction of wisdom teeth is often necessary because they cannot properly erupt. When blocked, they may grow sideways, emerge only partially or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth will shift within the bone in an attempt to find a way to effectively erupt.
Improperly erupted wisdom teeth can cause many problems. They have the potential to damage nearby teeth, bone and roots and invite bacterial infection, which in turn leads to pain, swelling, jaw stiffness and other difficulties. The most serious problem related to impacted wisdom teeth occurs when tumors or cysts develop, resulting in the destruction of both bone and healthy teeth. Extraction of the wisdom teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is generally recommended to avoid complications and therefore decrease any risks involved.
By examining the mouth and taking X-rays, our dentists can determine how the wisdom teeth are situated and evaluate the extent of current problems or the likelihood of any to arise. Treatment is far more successful when wisdom teeth issues are diagnosed and addressed early. Patients typically receive an initial evaluation in the mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or an oral surgeon.
Most wisdom teeth procedures can be performed in our office under local anesthesia, although some patients may require general anesthesia if all four teeth are to be removed at the same time. Our dentists have all of the skill and training necessary to provide various types of anesthesia in order to maximize our patients’ comfort.
Removal of Wisdom Teeth
The option to receive local anesthesia, laughing gas (nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia) or general anesthesia, as well as the surgical risks involved (sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be outlined for you prior to the procedure. Once the teeth are extracted, the gum is sutured closed and covered with gauze to control bleeding. You will remain in the office under our supervision until we feel you are ready to be discharged. We will provide you with a kit that includes postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, antibiotics and a scheduled appointment one week later for suture removal. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us.
All of our procedures are performed with an emphasis on optimizing safety, relying on the most modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.