Wisdom Teeth Extractions
Third molars, commonly referred to as wisdom teeth, are usually the last four of 32 teeth to show up in your mouth, generally appearing 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 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 gum is covering part or all of the tooth’s crown and has not positioned properly around the tooth. Because it is challenging to keep the area clean, food can become trapped below the gum and cause an infection and 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 challenging to keep the area clean, infection will commonly occur.
Complete Bony Impaction: The tooth is completely encased by the 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 a problem such as pain, swelling, decay, or infection. Our dentists may also recommend removal of your wisdom teeth as a preventative measure to avoid severe problems in the future. If impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is present and left untreated, several potentially harmful outcomes can occur, including:
- 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 cavities, 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 pressure other teeth and cause them to become crowded or twisted.
Wisdom Teeth Examination
As with any dental procedure, your dentist will initially want to examine the wisdom and surrounding teeth thoroughly. Your dentist will take panoramic or digital x-rays 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) are recommended to identify potential problems and 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 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.
At Silvertooth Family Dental, we understand that removing wisdom teeth can be a stressful experience for some patients. We offer several options for sedation dentistry to help you feel relaxed and comfortable during your procedure. We also offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) as an additional form of relaxation, if desired.
Please call our office at (903) 662-7420 to schedule a consultation to discuss your options for wisdom teeth extractions.
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