Wisdom teeth, also known as "third molars" are the last teeth to erupt. This occurs usually between the ages of 17 and 25. There remains a great deal of controversy regarding whether or not these teeth need to be removed. It is generally suggested that teeth that remain completely buried or un-erupted in a normal position are unlikely to cause harm. However, if these impacted teeth are in an abnormal position (a dentist can show you this on an x-ray) their potential for harm should be assessed.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
A tooth becomes impacted due to lack of space in the dental arch and its eruption is therefore prevented by gum, bone, another tooth or all three.
Impacted wisdom teeth may cause problems if left in place. This is particularly true of the lower wisdom teeth. Such problems may occur suddenly, and often at the most inconvenient times.
The removal, or extraction, of wisdom teeth is generally recommended when:
- The jaw isn't large enough to allow all the wisdom teeth to fully erupt in an alignment that is useful for chewing and crushing food.
- Wisdom teeth only partially erupt. This allows an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness. Partially erupted teeth are also more prone to tooth decay and gum disease because of their hard-to-reach location and awkward positioning, which makes brushing and flossing difficult.
- Poor alignment of wisdom teeth crowds or damages adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or nerves. Wisdom teeth that lean toward the second molars make those teeth more vulnerable to decay by entrapping plaque and debris.
- Cysts (fluid-filled sacs) form or to minimize their potential for forming. Cysts destroy surrounding teeth, jawbone, and nerves. If untreated, a tumor could develop from the walls of the cysts, requiring a more complicated surgical procedure for removal.
We will need to see you for a consultation to determine if you will benefit from wisdom tooth removal. A special x-ray of your mouth and jaws (panorex) will be taken to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted, if there is room for them to erupt, and how difficult it will be to have them removed.
With an oral examination and X-rays of the mouth, Dr. Ranchod can determine if extraction will be necessary.
Removal of wisdom teeth can be performed with local anesthesia or general anesthesia. After the teeth are removed, the gum is sutured (stitched) and gauze is placed in your mouth to bite on to control bleeding. You will be given postoperative instructions and prescriptions for pain medication. Then a follow-up appointment will be scheduled for a week after the procedure for suture (stitch) removal.