Why Wisdom Teeth Aren’t That Smart

Constant pain, swelling, crowding and pain relief medication! Yikes, this is usually what Wisdom Teeth are all about!!! Wisdom Teeth are the third and final set of molars that erupt in the back corners of the upper and lower normal adult mouth, these are typically referred to by dentists as #1, #16, #17 and #32. These teeth generally start erupting from the gums in young adults, between the ages of 17 to 25 years old. For this is a period known as the “Age of Wisdom”, which is where the term “Wisdom Teeth” originated from. When a tooth fails to grow into the mouth it is considered “impacted” and these impacted teeth don’t have any room to grow. About 90% of people have at least 1 impacted tooth. Once a tooth is impacted it can lead to health problems such as, crowding and damaging near-by roots- which can, worst case scenario lead to periodontal disease. It can also lead to difficulty in daily and regular cleanings, bone loss, pain, and infection and in some case a sac around the tooth, called a cyst can occur. The cyst is typically filled with blood and puss- and that can lead to an even bigger infection or even a tumor!!! Research suggests that the bacterium that lives around wisdom teeth can contribute to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease! The typical Wisdom Teeth symptoms include, pain and difficulty opening the mouth, bad breath and taste, ear ache, swelling and pain around the gums where the 3rd molars are located, and finally swollen glands.

panoramic xray wisdom teeth

To the right is an example of a Pano X-ray, this helps Dentists diagnose wisdom teeth extraction!

How Do You Know If Your Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?

Even if your wisdom teeth are “pain free” it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on them and discuss your concerns with your Dentist at your 6 month cleanings and exams. Your Dentist will take a series of x-rays or even a panoramic x-ray (a machine that circles around your head to view your entire mouth, teeth and jaws) this will help them determine how your wisdom teeth are growing in and if they need to be extracted! As wisdom teeth grow, their roots lengthen and sometimes curl around each other which can cause problems to surrounding teeth. Also the bone surrounding the teeth becomes denser, so removal of wisdom teeth at a later age can be more complicated and lead to a longer recovery time.


How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Prior to your surgery you will sit down with your oral surgeon or dentist and he/she will discuss the condition of your wisdom teeth. They will also inform you of any complications, expectations and amount of healing time needed. It is a good idea to ask lots of questions and discuss any concerns prior to the extractions. You will also speak with the front office in regards to your insurance plan and your estimated portion of your bill, again it’s a good idea to ask question and understand the financial obligations for Wisdom Teeth removal. Also you will need to inform the office and doctors of any past health history, illnesses you might have had, current medications you are taking and any allergies you have. This helps the doctors know what to watch out for and to prevent any complications during the extraction. Wisdom Teeth extractions are performed with little or no discomfort in the office with IV sedation, general anesthesia or local anesthesia.

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