By age 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. And, as a consequence, it can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth, which come in at some point during adolescence, are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”
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 insufficient 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’s clear that they will have insufficient space in the mouth to erupt properly, or insufficient space for proper maintenance if they do erupt. Without the necessary space, they can grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. In the latter, impacted teeth can take many uncomfortable and disruptive positions in the jaw as they attempt to find a pathway 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 collect beneath the gums that cover the buried portion of the teeth which leads to infection with swelling, stiffness, pain, and even more serious illness. The 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 can 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.
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 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 or 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.
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 same-day.
Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, and a follow-up appointment in one-two weeks (or sooner, if needed) for a post-operative recheck. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at Carrollton Office Phone Number 972 395-7630.
Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment, and include staff who are experienced in anesthesia (sedation) techniques.