Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom Teeth

By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 in the maxilla and 16 in the mandible. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine 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 for swallowing. The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth”.

Why should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

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 does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone, referred to as “impacted teeth”. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Early removal preferably under the age of 20 is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved in the procedure.

Consultation

With a consultation and x-ray images of the mouth, Dr. Brooks will evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there are any present or 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, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Most often the surgery can be performed in the office with monitored local anesthesia, nitrous oxide or IV sedation and other times it must be done in a hospital setting for medical reasons. Dr. Brooks has the training, licenses and experience to provide various types of anesthesia safely for patients.

Removal

In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under monitored IV sedation in the office setting. Your driver is expected to remain in the office for nearly 1 hour. The surgical risk (i.e., sensory nerve changes, sinus complications), will be discussed with you at the first consultation. Once the teeth are removed, the gum will be sutured with resorbable “stitches”. To help control bleeding, you will bite down on the gauze provided. You will rest under supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home and plan to rest at home as well for 24 hours. Upon discharge, your post-operative Home Care Bag will include post-operative instructions and a follow-up appointment in one week. The recovery time is usually 4-5 days on average. Prescriptions are given at the first consultation.