Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom teeth extraction surgery is often performed to prevent future
dental issues or to correct an existing problem. Around the age of 18,
adults have 32 teeth, 16 on top and 16 on bottom and yet the average
mouth can only hold 28 teeth. Dental complications can arise when the
four extra teeth, known as the Third Molars, or “wisdom teeth” erupt,
forcing their way into the space.
Because your jaw may not have enough space for your wisdom teeth,
they can emerge at awkward angles resulting in crowded space. If they
erupt they may erupt partially through the gums causing a gum tissue
flap to grow over them. Food and germs are more easily prone to get
caught under this flap and become difficult to clean resulting in
Your wisdom teeth can also become impacted meaning they become stuck
in the jaw and never break through the gums. Serious complications can
arise from impacted teeth including infection or damage to the bone,
nerves or other teeth.
Wisdom teeth extraction is an out patient surgery and generally
requires only a few days recovery time. Local anesthetic is usually used
to numb the area around the tooth unless multiple or all wisdom teeth
will be removed in which case a general anesthetic is usually used.
During the extraction process the gum tissue is opened over the tooth
and any bone on the surface of the tooth is removed. The tissue
connecting the tooth to the bone is separated and the tooth is then
removed. In some cases the tooth is broken into smaller pieces for
After the tooth is removed, you may need stitches. Cotton gauze is
placed over the wound to help stop the bleeding.
In most cases, the recovery period lasts only a few days. Take
painkillers as prescribe by your oral surgeon. Listed below are some
post-op surgery tips.
- Change the cotton gauzes periodically to keep the wound clean.
- Be careful to avoid biting your lip, tongue or cheeks post
surgery as a result of the applied anesthesia.
- To minimize swelling, you can apply ice packs to the sides of
your face where surgery was performed.
- Avoid using a straw during the healing process. The sucking
movement can loosen the blood clot and increase the healing time.
- After the first day, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt
water several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
If you live in or around Austin
, call our office to schedule a consultation or fill out an online
appointment request form to find out if you should have your wisdom
teeth taken out. Our oral surgeons will gladly answer any questions you
Wisdom Teeth Extractions
Third molars, commonly referred to as wisdom teeth, are usually the last four
of 32 teeth to erupt (surface) in the mouth, generally making their appearance
between the ages of 17 to 25. They are located at the back of the mouth (top
and bottom), near the entrance to the throat. The term “wisdom” stems from the
idea that the molars surface at a time typically associated with increased
maturity or “wisdom”.
In most cases, inadequate space in the mouth does not allow the wisdom teeth
to erupt properly and become fully functional. When this happens, the tooth
can become impacted (stuck) in an undesirable or potentially harmful position.
If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to infection, damage
to other teeth, and possibly cysts or tumors.
There are several types, or degrees, of impaction based on the actual depth
of the teeth within the jaw:
Soft Tissue Impaction: The upper portion of the tooth (the crown) has
penetrated through the bone, but the gingiva (gum) is covering part
or all of the tooth’s crown and has not positioned properly around the
tooth. Because it is difficult to keep the area clean, food can become
trapped below the gum and cause an infection and/or tooth decay,
resulting in pain and swelling.
Partial Bony Impaction: The tooth has partially erupted, but a portion of
the crown remains submerged below the gum and surrounding jawbone. Again,
because it is difficult to keep the area clean, infection will commonly occur.
Complete Bony Impaction: The tooth is completely encased by jawbone. This will
require more complex removal techniques.
Reasons to remove wisdom teeth
While not all wisdom teeth require removal, wisdom teeth extractions are
most often performed because of an active problem such as pain, swelling,
decay or infection, or as a preventative measure to avoid serious problems
in the future. If impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is present,
and left untreated, a number of potentially harmful outcomes can occur,
- Damage to nearby teeth: Second molars (the teeth directly in
front of the wisdom teeth) can be adversely affected by impacted wisdom
teeth, resulting in tooth decay (cavities), periodontal disease (gum disease)
and possible bone loss.
- Disease: Although uncommon, cysts and tumors can occur in the areas
surrounding impacted wisdom teeth.
Infection: Bacteria and food can become trapped under the gum tissue,
resulting in an infection. The infection can cause considerable pain and danger.
Tooth Crowding: It has been theorized that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on
other teeth and cause them to become misaligned (crowded or twisted). This theory isn’t
universally accepted by all dental professionals, and it has never been validated by
any scientific studies.
Wisdom Teeth Examination
As with any dental procedure, your dentist will want to
initially conduct a thorough examination of the wisdom and
surrounding teeth. Panoramic or digital x-rays will be taken
in order for your dentist to evaluate the position of
the wisdom teeth and determine if a current problem exists,
or the likelihood of any potential future problems.
The x-rays can also expose additional risk factors, such as
deterioration or decay of nearby teeth. Early evaluation
and treatment (typically in the mid-teen years) is recommended
in order to identify potential problems and to improve the
results for patients requiring wisdom teeth extractions.
Only after a thorough examination can your dentist provide
you with the best options for your particular case.
What does the removal of wisdom teeth involve?
Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, generally performed
under local anesthesia, intravenous (IV) sedation, or general
anesthesia by a specially trained dentist in an office surgery
suite. The surgery does not require an overnight stay, and you
will be released with post-operative instructions and medication
(if necessary), to help manage any swelling or discomfort.
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