Wisdom Teeth

By the age of eighteen, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth are ideal for biting and tearing food into smaller pieces. The back teeth or molar teeth are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.

The average mouth has room for only 28 teeth. It can be problematic when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that comfortably holds only 28 teeth. The last four teeth to try to erupt into your mouth are your Third Molars, also known as "wisdom teeth."

Why Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully.

Poorly positioned or impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems.

Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure, as it becomes more difficult and risky to remove these teeth as we age.

Evaluation

With an examination and x-rays of the teeth and jaws, Dr. Molen can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the early teen years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Molen has advanced training and expertise in various types of anesthesia, in order to select the best alternative for you.

Procedure

In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under IV sedation or general anesthesia, along with local anesthesia. These options as well as the risks of the procedure will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed.

Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff that are experienced in anesthesia techniques. We will provide you with written instructions after the procedure to ensure that your recovery goes as smoothly as possible.