The last molars to erupt in the back of your mouth are commonly known as wisdom teeth (or third molars). Normally a person will develop four wisdom teeth, but some people may have more or less.
A tooth becomes impacted because there is a lack of space in the dental arch, causing the tooth to grow on an angle towards the other molars and their roots.
This impaction can cause pain, lead to infection, or cause other harmful conditions such as damaging the adjacent molar and its roots or damage the bone and nerves of the jaw. When the wisdom tooth is growing toward adjacent teeth, it can trap plaque and debris making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.
Wisdom teeth will likely cause problems as you age. Approximately 85% of wisdom teeth will need to be removed. Early removal of wisdom teeth is recommended to avoid problems in your mouth and to avoid more complicated procedures in the future.
Often you will be referred by your family dentist for evaluation of your wisdom teeth. At your consultation appointment, a through medical history and examination will be done. Evaluation of x-rays (taken by your family dentist or at our office) will be necessary to show the position and development of your wisdom teeth and how they relate to surrounding structures.
The ease of the wisdom teeth removal depends on the position of the tooth and root development. A wisdom tooth that has fully cut through the gums can sometimes be extracted much like any other tooth.
A wisdom tooth that is beneath the gums, is broken down, or is in very dense bone may require an incision into the gums, removal of the portion of bone that lies over the tooth, and removal in smaller portions to minimize the amount of bone that is removed.
Wisdom teeth can be removed using local anesthesia (“Novocain”) or one of several methods of sedation/general anesthesia. The anesthesia options will be discussed with you to determine what type of anesthesia is best for your needs.
After your wisdom teeth are removed you may experience some swelling and mild discomfort, which are normal symptoms and are part of the healing process. We will go over with you what to expect before, during, and after your wisdom tooth surgery, including detailed instructions and pain medications in order to make your healing process as fast and comfortable as possible. One of our doctors is on-call at all times to assist you after your surgery.