Wisdom Teeth Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.
By the age of 18, 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 (incisors, canine, and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth (molar teeth) are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.
The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”
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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. Wisdom teeth are usually removed around the age 16-17 years, but may need to be removed as early as age 13.
With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Philibin can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there are any present or foreseeable problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for patients. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. A thorough discussion is had with the patient and parents regarding the procedure, theoretical risks and potential complications, and anesthesia options. A joint decision is made as to if and when the wisdom teeth should be removed.
In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under IV anesthesia. Sometimes local anesthesia will be all that is needed. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), is discussed with the patient before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gums are sutured. Bleeding is controlled by biting on gauze. The patient rests under our supervision in the office until they are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, a postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, antibiotics, and a follow-up appointment in one week to confirm good healing.
All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Philibin has the training, license, and experience to provide various types of anesthesia including IV deep sedation, IV conscious sedation, and nitrous oxide anesthesia.
Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and clinical staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.