Wisdom teeth is a fancy name given to the third set of adult molars. There are four wisdom teeth, one on each side, although occasionally wisdom teeth can be congenitally missing (meaning they were never there.) These molars typically erupt around 18 years old, if at all. Unfortunately, these teeth often do not fit in the average mouth and therefore are prone to impaction. Impaction occurs when a tooth doesn’t have enough room to erupt fully. Tooth impaction can range from entirely under the gum to partially erupted.
Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to all sorts of problems. Mainly, wisdom teeth that are partially through the gums can lead to gum infections. They are challenging to clean and often have gum tissue covering the back half that acts as a bacteria trap. In addition, impacted wisdom teeth can cause cysts, infection, cavities in surrounding teeth, shifting of surrounding teeth, jaw damage and even problems with the sinus’. Even when wisdom teeth erupt into the mouth, they may not erupt at the height of the surrounding teeth and aren’t used when chewing. This can cause over eruption of surrounding teeth as well as cavities in the wisdom teeth.
It is a much easier procedure to have wisdom teeth extracted at a younger age than older age. Therefore, it is often recommended to have wisdom teeth removed as a preventive measure when it is clear they will be impacted and won’t fit. Sometimes wisdom teeth can sit impacted in the jaw for a lifetime without causing problems. It is impossible to say if and when impacted wisdom teeth will create an issue. Wisdom teeth are also prone to forming at the wrong angle, making it clear they won’t be able to erupt. Talk with your dentist about if and when you should have your wisdom teeth removed.
This procedure is very routine and has a relatively quick recovery. Either a dentist or an oral surgeon will perform the procedure, depending on the degree of impaction. The procedure can be performed using a local anesthetic, nitrous oxide, sedatives or general anesthetic. Recovery usually takes a few days.
If you are concerned about your wisdom teeth or have any questions about the removal procedure, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.