Wisdom Teeth

Your third molars, commonly known as your wisdom teeth are typically the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. If healthy and functional, your wisdom teeth can be useful; however, there are also reasons behind why you may need to consider removing your wisdom teeth. In some cases, your wisdom teeth are in fact healthy but because of orthodontic treatment they need to be removed anyway. In other cases your wisdom teeth can become impacted or only partially erupt through the gum in a misalignment. When impacted or partially impacted your wisdom teeth can cause swelling, pain, and even infection of the surrounding gum. They can also put pressure on the adjacent teeth which can result in permanent damage to these otherwise healthy teeth and their surrounding bones. Sometimes impacted or partially impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to the formation of cysts and in worst case scenarios, even tumors which could potentially destroy an entire section of your jaw. Lastly, a fully erupted wisdom tooth needs to be removed because they are very hard to clean and can cause severe tooth decay. So for these reasons, sometimes the smart move is to have your wisdom teeth removed. Before we start, it’s important that you notify your dentist of your medical condition, such as, whether you have any artificial joints, diabetes, or a history of heart and valve conditions. You should also inform your dentist of any medications you are currently or previously have taken, such as, Redux, Phen Fen, blood thinners, or importantly medications that contain Biphosphonates, like Fosamax. Whether your dentist or specialist is performing your extraction the procedure is the same. First, a local anesthetic is given to make the procedure more comfortable. In some cases, your doctor may elect to administer nitrous oxide gas in addition to the anesthetic or use a general anesthetic to put you under entirely. Once the area is numb the extraction begins. A dental instrument, called an elevator, is used to wiggle the tooth in its socket. After the tooth is loosened, it is removed using forceps or in some more complicated cases a surgical hand piece is also used to assist with the removal of the tooth. Like most other procedures, tooth extraction is not free of possible complications, you should be aware that there is a slight chance of:

  • Infection
  • Tenderness
  • Prolonged bleeding and Hematoma
  • Dry Socket
  • Loosening of neighboring teeth, or their fillings or crowns
  • Another rare possibility is a tooth being displaced into the sinus during an extraction of an upper tooth.
  • Lastly, jaw fracture is also a very rare possibility.

When should you have your wisdom teeth removed? There is no single, right answer for everyone, however, if your dentist has advised that your wisdom teeth look potentially problematic it’s generally best to remove them sooner rather than later. This advice is based on the fact that the younger you are the faster you heal. The likelihood of lingering numbness, jaw fracture or other complications also increases with age. Lastly, the longer you keep the troublesome wisdom tooth in your mouth the longer it has to cause further problems in the future. So listen to your dentist and don’t delay the removal of your wisdom teeth when advised. Be sure to ask your dentist for proper home care and post operative instruction care. If you have any additional questions, please consult your dentist.


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