Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to develop and appear on each side of the upper and lower jaws. They are also the final teeth to erupt. They come in between the ages of 17 and 25, a time of life that has been called the “Age of Wisdom.”
Signs & Symptoms
Wisdom teeth that only partially emerge or come in crooked can also lead to painful crowding and disease. As teeth removed before age 20 have less developed roots and fewer complications, the American Dental Association recommends that people between 16 and 19 have their wisdom teeth evaluated see if they need to be removed.
As wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to come in, or erupt, there is often not enough room left in your mouth to accommodate them. This can lead to wisdom teeth that are impacted (below the gum line and not erupted). If teeth are impacted, swelling and tenderness may occur in the area of the third molar.
- Complications such as infection
- Damage to adjacent teeth
- The formation of cysts may arise from impacted teeth.
Must the Tooth Come Out if It Hasn’t Caused Any Problems Yet?
Many people believe that as long as they are not in pain, they do not have to worry about their wisdom teeth. However, pain-free does not mean disease or problem free. In fact, wisdom teeth that come in normally may still be prone to disease, according to a study by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation. AAOMS strongly recommends that third molars be evaluated by an OMS by the time a patient is a young adult in order to assess the presence of third molars, disease status, and to suggest management options ranging from removal to a monitored retention plan to ensure optimal patient-specific outcomes.
In general, dental and medical professionals agree that wisdom teeth should be removed in the following instances:
- Infections and/or periodontal disease
- Cavities that cannot be restored
- Pathologies such as cysts, and tumors
- Damage to neighboring teeth
If the wisdom teeth have erupted, the tooth (or teeth) will be removed. After surgery, you may be asked to bite down softly on a piece of gauze for 30 to 45 minutes after you leave the office, to limit any bleeding that may occur.
If the wisdom teeth are impacted and embedded in the bone, the oral surgeon will put an incision into the gums and remove the tooth or teeth in sections in order to minimize the amount of bone being removed. Some pain and swelling may occur, but it will normally go away after a few days; however, you should call your dentist or oral surgeon if you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever.
Removal of wisdom teeth due to crowding or impaction should not affect your bite or oral health in the future.
If surgery is completed, swelling and tenderness in the face and neck are common, as is bruising. Ice packs and pain medications prescribed by the dentist or oral surgeon will help, but if you have any questions or are concerned about what you are experiencing, contact us.