An Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, commonly called an Oral Surgeon, can manage a wide variety of problems relating to the mouth, teeth and facial regions, with expertise ranging from dental implant surgery and wisdom tooth removal to corrective jaw surgery. This includes techniques with minimal surgical intervention and optimal patient comfort.
What Is Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, officially referred to as third molars are usually the last teeth to develop. They are located in the very back of your mouth, next to your second (or twelve year) molars and near the entrance to your throat.
Third molars are usually completely developed between the ages of 15 and 18, a time traditionally associated with the onset of maturity and attainment of wisdom. By the age of eighteen, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth in the upper jaw and 16 teeth in the lower jaw. Unfortunately, the adult mouth in only large enough to accommodate 28 teeth.
It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth.
Why Should I Have My Wisdom Tooth Removed?
Wisdom teeth commonly do not have enough room to properly erupt into our mouth where they can become fully functional and cleansable teeth. This lack space can result in a number of harmful effects on your overall dental health. When a tooth cannot erupt into proper alignment, we call it impacted, which simply means “stuck” in an improper position.
There are several types or degree of impaction:
- Soft Tissue Impactions: There is adequate jaw bone to allow the wisdom tooth to erupt, but not enough room to allow the gum tissue to be properly positioned and attached to the tooth. This causes tremendous problems because it is not possible to keep the area clean. Infection commonly resulting in swelling and pain.
- Partial Bony Impactions: There is enough space to allow the wisdom tooth to partially erupt, but it cannot function in the chewing process. The tooth remains partially covered by bone and soft tissue. Once again, keeping the area clean is impossible and problems commonly develop.
- Complete Bony Impactions: There is no space for the tooth to erupt. The tooth is completely covered by bone or if it is partially exposed through the bone, it requires complex removal techniques.
- Unusually Difficult Complete Bony Impactions: the impacted wisdom tooth is an unusual and difficult position to remove.
If you do not have enough space in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to erupt into proper position they can cause a multitude of problems such as:
- Infection – Without enough room for total eruption, the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth can become irritated and inflamed resulting in recurrent pains, swelling and problems with chewing and swallowing.
- Damage To Adjacent Teeth: If there is inadequate room to clean around the wisdom tooth, the tooth directly in front of the wisdom tooth, the second molar, can be adversely affected resulting in gum disease (bone loss) or cavities (caries or decay)
- Disease: Non-infectious diseases also can be arising in association with an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts are fluid-filled “balloons” inside the jawbone which are associated with impacted wisdom teeth and gets slowly expand, destroying adjacent jawbone and occasionally adjacent teeth. Although rare, certain tumors can be associated with impacted teeth. Both of these conditions can be very difficult to treat.
- Crowding: Although controversial, many feel that impacted wisdom teeth directly contribute to crowding or shifting of your teeth. This crowding is usually most noticeable in the lower front teeth. This is most commonly seen after a patient has had braces. There are most likely a number of factors that cause our teeth to shift and impacted wisdom teeth may play a contributory role. Although, wisdom tooth removal cannot be recommended solely to avoid overcrowding, it can be recommended in order to absolutely eliminate any possible role in future crowding and other bite changes.
As oral and maxillofacial surgeon can remove (extract) a wisdom tooth. The procedure often can be done in the dentist’s or surgeon’s office. You may have the surgery in the hospital especially if you are having all your wisdom teeth pulled at one time or if are at high risk of complications.
If you have any infections, surgery will usually be delayed until the infection has cleared up. Your doctor or dentist many have you to take antibiotics to help you heal the infection.
Before removing a wisdom tooth, your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. A general anesthetic may be used especially if several or all of your wisdom that will be removed at the same time. A general anesthetic prevents pain in the whole body and will cause you to sleep through the procedure. Your dentist will probably recommend that you don’t eat or drink after midnight on the night before surgery, so you are prepared for the anesthetic.