Wisdom Tooth Removal
WISDOM TEETH – A GUIDE FOR PARENTS AND PATIENTS
YOU’VE BEEN ADVISED YOU NEED YOUR WISDOM TEETH OUT. WHAT COMES NEXT?
For many, the thought of having wisdom teeth removed can seem terrifying. Just the mention of the words “surgery” or “extraction” can conjure up fear. In truth, wisdom tooth extraction is a fast, safe, and effective means of improving your long-term oral health. The journey begins when you schedule an appointment to first assess your case specifics and then formulate a plan tailored to your unique needs. Each step in the procedure will be discussed and details such as sedation – anaesthesia, your drop-off and pick-up arrangements along with your post-operative regime will be reviewed. Our office offers a range of sedation – aenesthesia options coupled with advanced vital sign monitoring. Your health and safety remain our priority. The focus of our practice is to ensure your entire experience is positive and stress free.
WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?
Generally, we each possess three sets of molars that erupt at different times. The first molars erupt at approximately age six, the second molars around age 12, and the third molars develop during our late teenage years. As third molars tend to erupt during the transition into adulthood, classically they were referred to as wisdom teeth.
WHY SHOULD WISDOM TEETH BE REMOVED?
Anthropologists have determined that the coarse diet early humans consumed caused significant tooth wear. Compensatory drifting of the teeth due to this wear provided the space necessary for most wisdom teeth to erupt by the late teenage years. Our modern diet however is much softer. As a result, our teeth no longer experience such extreme wear. In addition, orthodontic treatment tends to establish a fuller and thus more cosmetic dental arch form. There is typically insufficient room for the wisdom teeth to properly erupt.
A constellation of potential issues tend to develop surrounding impacted or malposed wisdom teeth. Even if fully erupted, wisdom teeth due to their hard to reach locations at the back of our mouth can easily become infected. Further, impacted (unerupted) wisdom teeth can develop cysts or tumors (refer to “The Trouble with Wisdom Teeth”, below).
IN LIFE, EVERYTHING HINGES ON TIMING.
SO TOO WITH WISDOM TEETH!
Wisdom Tooth Development
You are likely aware that many of your friends are also having their wisdom teeth removed? There is harm in waiting until wisdom teeth start to bother you! The optimal (yet fleeting) window for wisdom tooth extraction is between ages 17-21 before the roots are fully formed. Ideally, this is when parents should consider their children be evaluated. During this time, the risk of damage to nearby nerves, teeth and/or bone is markedly reduced.
As a counterpoint, waiting to remove wisdom teeth once the roots have fully formed (potentially closer to the nerve) places you at greater risk. Even if wisdom teeth were to erupt, studies dating back over 50 years determined that in the average individual, there is typically insufficient room for wisdom teeth to erupt fully and thereafter be predictably cleansable. In such instances, as bacterial plaque and periodontal disease take hold, infection (jawbone death) begins around wisdom teeth and spreads to involve the adjacent second molars. Dr. Novack views such complications as entirely preventable. Non functional wisdom teeth should be extracted rather than permitted to jeopardize and in many instances, cause the loss of your critically important adjacent molars. By our 30‘s and 40’s, the literature has shown a partial hole (defect) in the jaw will remain following tooth extraction. As one likely would expect, by age 60 our bodies lack a robust regenerative capacity. Should a wisdom tooth be removed later in life, typically there is a requirement for extensive bone regenerative surgery to reconstruct the lost periodontal (gum and bone) support. Further, as we age our jawbone tends to become more brittle, the literature notes that older patients are at greater risk of developing gum and jawbone infection (periodontitis) in the region surrounding the wisdom teeth and adjacent molars. Finally, chronic gum – periodontal infections do affect our general health!
THE TROUBLE WITH WISDOM TEETH
Are you still feeling unsure? To assist you in better understanding the issues surrounding wisdom teeth, we have provided the following computer animations. Many common questions and concerns pertaining to wisdom teeth are visually explained.
Your gums may become infected, a condition known as “pericoronitis”, when wisdom teeth fail to successfully erupt. Pericoronitis infection causes pain, swelling, difficulty swallowing and if left untreated, these symptoms tend to worsen.
CYSTS AND BENIGN TUMORS:
Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form within the jawbone when impacted wisdom teeth are not removed. As cysts continue to grow, they can damage your jawbone and neighboring teeth. The larger cysts become, the more difficult they are to treat.
CROWDING AND ALIGNMENT ISSUES:
Impacted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of your teeth. This is most noticeable with the front teeth, primarily the lower front teeth and is most commonly seen after a patient has had braces. There are a number of factors that cause teeth to crowd after braces or in early adulthood. Retained, impacted wisdom teeth may be a contributing factor. Unless you have an active problem when you see the oral surgeon, the reason for removal is primarily to prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums and jaw bone.
DAMAGE TO NEARBY TEETH:
It is difficult to perform effective oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) so far back in the mouth where wisdom teeth are situated. Overtime, ineffective oral hygiene in the area surrounding wisdom teeth can result in tooth decay and jawbone loss (periodontal disease).
If you have been procrastinating about removing your wisdom teeth, take the first step and call. We are committed to providing you with the calm, safe and comfortable experience you are looking for!