Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, usually enter into the mouth between the ages of 17 and 25, referred to as the age of wisdom – hence the name.  Molars are teeth at the back of the mouth and are useful for grinding food into suitable consistency for swallowing, while the front teeth serve to hold and grab food down into chunks before being handed on to the morals for grinding.

The typical adult mouth can accommodate 28 teeth.  The presence of the third molars brings the total number of teeth to 32, which can cause crowding and spacing problems.  This is one of the reasons for the removal of wisdom teeth.  However, there are other health concerns to consider as described below.

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 and there is no crowding of other teeth, then wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. Often times a tooth is unable to fully enter into the mouth, in which case it is considered “impacted.”  According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), nine out of ten people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.

Without enough room to grow into the mouth, an impacted tooth can begin to grow sideways, pushing good teeth out of alignment, or it can partially emerge from the gum, leading to pain and infection.

Wisdom Teeth – Overview

Wisdom Teeth – Overview

Infected Wisdom Tooth

Infected Wisdom Tooth

Example of Wisdom Teeth X-ray

Example of Wisdom Teeth X-ray

Wisdom Tooth Extraction Procedure

Wisdom Tooth Extraction Procedure

But My Wisdom Teeth are not causing me any Pain….

Even if teeth are not giving any problems, it is possible to have other health concerns present.  First, erupted teeth that appear to be in correct position are still subject to disease.  Second, the bacteria that cause gum disease maybe present around third molars and cause damage before symptoms appear.  In addition, studies undertaken by AAOMS suggest that bacteria surrounding wisdom teeth may contribute to systemic health problems , including diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and other health problems.

How are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Usually, wisdom teeth are removed under general sedation, where the patient is put to sleep, however due to health concerns or other issues, the Doctor may recommend another anesthetic approach to wisdom teeth removal.  Before proceeding with treatment, our Doctor takes into consideration the patients full heath history, ensuring they are good candidate for sedation,  In addition the patients x-ray is examined to ensure that roots of the wisdom teeth are not entangled with nerves that run through the oral cavity.  Occasionally a 3D imaging scan might be requested to obtain further insight to nerve position.

For this reason, the typical wisdom tooth treatment begins with a consult during which current xray’s are taken if existing x-ray’s are more than five months old.  All approaches to treatment are explained to the patient, and we also do our best to estimate insurance coverage for wisdom teeth removal.  The patient is then free to decide how they would like to proceed with treatment.