Wisdom Teeth

The average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom.  Unfortunately the average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. When the remaining 4 teeth are trying to fit in your mouth, it can be painful. Wisdom teeth or third molars are these four other teeth. They are the last teeth to develop and appear in your mouth. By the time the wisdom teeth are trying to come in, there usually isn’t enough room in your mouth. Wisdom teeth usually come in between the ages of 17 and 25, a time of life that has been called the “Age of Wisdom.” The term “impacted” refers to a tooth that is unable to fully enter the mouth. Impacted teeth are unable to break through the gums because there is not enough room, as is usually the case with wisdom teeth.

Why Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?

The impacted wisdom teeth may become infected or may damage the neighboring teeth, if left in the mouth. It is also very difficult to clean this area of the mouth, thus it is easy to get cavities and infections of the bone or gum tissue. If not treated, the bacteria may gain entrance into your bloodstream where it can lead to systemic infections and illnesses that affect your major organs such as the heart and kidneys. If the wisdom teeth are aligned properly and in proper occlusion, as well as the gum tissue is healthy, then the wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Wisdom teeth are usually impacted; they may grow sideways, partially broken through from the gums or trapped beneath the gum and bone. Their poor position often lends itself to a food trap and common site for recurrent infections. Wisdom teeth may also disrupt your orthodontic or braces treatment and will need to be removed. They can also create periodontal disease around your neighbouring teeth. More serious problems can occur when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and 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.

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WISDOM TEETH GROWTH BY AGE

One should be examined at an early age to evaluate the position of their wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are much easier to remove when the patient is younger, because their roots are not completely formed. The bone surrounding the tooth is softer and there is less chance of damaging the surrounding nerves or other bony structures. When you remove your wisdom teeth at a later age, the process is much more complicated, recovery is longer and the jawbone is denser.

SHOULD WISDOM TEETH BE REMOVED IF THEY HAVEN’T CAUSED A PROBLEM YET?

According to research, wisdom teeth that come in normally may still be prone to disease. It is strongly recommended that third molars or wisdom teeth be evaluated by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon by the time the patient is a young adult. Your surgeon can assess the presence and position of the wisdom teeth, disease status and discuss management options ranging from removal to monitoring the teeth. Much of dentistry is focused on prevention. You do not want to wait until your wisdom tooth is in pain to have them removed. Other than being in pain, there may be more complications and inconveniences associated with extracting the wisdom tooth too late. Most dental and medical professionals agree that wisdom teeth should be removed in the following conditions:

  • infections and/or periodontal disease
  •  unrestorable cavities
  •  pathologic lesions such as cysts and tumors
  • damage to neighboring teeth

The worst thing to do is to ignore your wisdom tooth!

WHAT’S INVOLVED WITH SURGERY?

If your dentist recommends removal of your wisdom teeth, you will most likely be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Dr. Aidelbaum and Dr. Chen will see you for consultation first to assess the status of your wisdom teeth. They will conduct a clinical and radiological examination and will discuss with you whether you need to remove your wisdom teeth. They will review with you alternative plans as well. Dr. Aidelbaum and Dr. Chen will also inform you what’s involved with your particular surgery and what to expect, as well as your post-operative healing course. Wisdom teeth can usually be extracted in the office setting with little or no pain. Patients will be offered either local anesthesia, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Your surgeon will recommend the anesthetic option that is right for you. At Pacific Coast Oral and Maxillofacial Solutions, your surgeons can perform your surgeries under general anesthesia in the office setting or at the hospitals.

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