Wisdom Teeth

By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canines, and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth (molar teeth) are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.

 

The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. The vast majority of the time, wisdom teeth will either have insufficient space to erupt, will only erupt partially, or will erupt fully but will have insufficent space for proper hygiene.  The medical term for things that become “stuck” in the body is “impacted”.  Thus, when wisdom teeth fail to erupt fully, they are said to be “impacted”. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when it is clear that they will have insufficient space in the mouth to erupt properly or insufficient space for proper maintenence if they do erupt. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt.

These poorly positioned or impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially or even fully erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to colllect beneath the gums that are covering the buried portion of the teeth that leads to infection with swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness. Chronic collection of these bacteria can lead to gum disease and cavities on the teeth in front of wisdom teeth.  Additionally, the bacteria that collect under the gums around wisdom teeth have been shown to enter the bloodstream and cause heart disease, diabetes, an increased risk of stroke, and in women, premature and lower birth weight infants.  The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. Another serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and adjacent healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.

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Oral Examination

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Nail can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and detect if they are are present or may cause future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Nail has the training, licensing and experience to provide various types of anesthesia to optimize surgical outcome and patient  comfort.

Removal

In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under intravenous sedation or intravenous general anesthesia. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gum is sutured closed. To help control any oozing from the surgical sites, you will be instructed to bite down on the gauze placed in your mouth. You will rest under monitored supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, and a follow-up appointment in one-two weeks for a post-operative recheck (or sooner, if needed). If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 972 395-7630.

Wisdom Tooth Removal Overview

For a brief narrated overview of the wisdom tooth removal process, please click the image below. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about wisdom teeth.

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Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.