Wisdom Teeth Removal
Many people feel apprehensive when they hear dental professionals talk about wisdom teeth. Many people assume that getting wisdom teeth removed is a long, painful ordeal that requires a long recovery. However, modern equipment and methods make wisdom teeth removal easier than ever and reduces wisdom tooth pain. If you or your teenager requires wisdom teeth removal, consider setting up an appointment at the Center for Oral & Facial Surgery. Our El Cajon & San Diego oral surgery practice has been in operation for over 85 years, and we pride ourselves on staying abreast of the latest advancements in wisdom teeth removal.
Wisdom Teeth Basics
Wisdom teeth are molars that exist in the back of the mouth. Though some people are born without wisdom teeth, most people have them erupt in their late teens or early 20s.
- Development and Detection: Wisdom teeth develop beneath the gums until they’re ready to erupt. Most people have four wisdom teeth, two in each jaw. A dentist or oral surgeon can detect incoming wisdom teeth in an x-ray.
- Evolutionary Function: You might ask, “Why would the human body make something that needs to be removed?” The leading theory is that wisdom teeth are left over from a time when human ancestors had larger jaws and more teeth for chewing foliage.
- Eruption and Removal: Wisdom teeth may need to be removed if they are misaligned or if they only partially erupt. Misalignment can cause impaction, while a partial eruption can encourage harmful bacteria to accumulate in the area.
Wisdom Teeth Facts and Statistics
- 90% of people have one impacted wisdom tooth or more.
- Roughly five million Americans undergo wisdom teeth removal every year.
- About 12% of wisdom teeth will likely cause infections if not removed.
- Oral surgeons may use local anesthesia or general anesthesia for wisdom teeth removal.
- Most people who need to get their wisdom teeth removed do so between the ages of 17 and 25.
- Wisdom teeth are so named because they appear much later than the other permanent teeth, when an individual is “wiser.”
Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
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 successfully erupt.
These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth 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 teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.
With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Drs. Eckstein, Oleksy, and Havas can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there are present or may be 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 mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Drs. Eckstein, Oleksy, and Havas have the training, license and experience to provide various types of anesthesia for patients to select the best alternative.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction Procedure
In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under local anesthesia, laughing gas (nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia) or general anesthesia. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gum is sutured. To help control bleeding, bite down on the gauze placed in your mouth. You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, antibiotics, and a follow-up appointment in one week for suture removal. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at our San Diego office at (619) 299-3320 and our El Cajon office at (619) 588-4011. Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.
If your dentist determines that you or your teenager needs wisdom teeth removal surgery, contact the Center for Oral & Facial Surgery at (619) 299-3320 to set up an appointment. We use the safest and most sophisticated methods available to ensure that our patients’ wisdom teeth are completely removed. If you need oral surgery of any kind, trust our team of El Cajon & San Diego oral surgery professionals.