Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Your wisdom teeth are the sets of third molars located at the back of your upper and lower arches. They are generally the last four teeth to surface, or “erupt,” and can appear anywhere between ages 17 and 35. Wisdom teeth commonly require removal if they do not have enough room to properly develop and become fully functional. Due to the lack of adequate space in the mouth, wisdom teeth can become impacted—or stuck—in a problematic position that is often painful and necessitates extraction. While this impaction is typically noticed during the mid-teen years, older adults may also require extraction if the wisdom teeth start to present oral health concerns. At South River Dentistry, dentist Jeff T. Blackburn, DDS offers treatment for wisdom teeth removal, as well as other oral surgery procedures. We frequently refer more complex cases of wisdom teeth extraction, such as impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth, to the expertise of an oral surgeon in order to ensure the highest quality of patient care.
Reasons to Extract Wisdom Teeth
There are many reasons for wisdom teeth removal. Sometimes, the procedure is performed to address active pain, swelling, decay, or infection around the wisdom teeth. Other times, extracting the wisdom teeth is purely preventative and done in cases where future problems in the teeth and gums are foreseeable. When the wisdom teeth become impacted in your jawbone or gums, it can cause:
- Damage to nearby teeth: When the wisdom teeth surface improperly, they can damage surrounding teeth and cause cavities and/or potential bone loss.
- Disease: Periodontal disease (gum disease), cysts, and even tumors can develop in the areas around impacted wisdom teeth.
- Infection: An infection can arise when food and bacteria become trapped underneath the gum tissue of impacted wisdom teeth, causing pain and additional oral health issues.
- Tooth-crowding: It has been theorized that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on nearby teeth and cause tooth shifting and misalignments.
When the teeth erupt at an angle, or never erupt, this may be a sign that extraction is necessary. Dr. Blackburn can examine the third molars and surrounding teeth to determine whether a current problem, or the likelihood of a future problem, exists. An x-ray or panoramic is usually taken during this process to make any existing tooth damage or decay more visible.
Types of Impaction
Impacted wisdom teeth are often accompanied by symptoms such as pain, swollen or bleeding gums, perpetual bad breath, headache, a bad taste when eating, or swelling around the jaw. The most obvious indicator of impaction is swollen or infected gum tissue on top of the tooth. However, an individual may also experience no symptoms from impacted teeth. Different types of impaction include:
- Soft tissue impaction— The crown (upper portion) of the tooth has passed through the bone, but is still being partially or fully covered by the gum tissue.
- Partial bony impaction— The tooth has partially surfaced; however, a part of the tooth is still submerged below the gum tissue and lies within the jawbone.
- Complete bony impaction— The tooth is fully submerged within the jawbone.
The Wisdom Teeth Extraction Procedure
After a thorough dental examination determines that your wisdom teeth require extraction, a specially trained dentist or an oral surgeon will develop a treatment plan for you. Depending on your unique needs, this common procedure will be performed under local anesthesia, intravenous (IV) sedation, or general anesthesia. Wisdom teeth extraction does not usually necessitate an overnight stay and you should be able to return home following the procedure. Post-operative instructions will be provided personally and may include temporary dietary restrictions, such as a fluid and soft-food diet. If necessary, you will be provided with oral medication to help manage any swelling or discomfort. While the length of your recovery period will depend on the complexity of your procedure, wisdom teeth extraction typically requires only a few days of downtime, if any.