The wisdom teeth are the third molars, and they are the last teeth in the mouth to erupt. The first molars tend to erupt at around six years of age, while the second molars erupt at around age 12. The wisdom teeth typically erupt at around the age of 18, but for many people, the teeth become impacted and don't actually move out through the gums at all.
The main problem with wisdom teeth is that most people simply don't have enough room in the back of their mouths for them to fit. When the wisdom teeth are trying to push through the gums, they can cause infection and pain, and they may also cause the rest of your teeth to shift in position. In severe cases, the wisdom teeth can even damage the nearby teeth or result in permanent nerve damage.
Deciding to Remove the Wisdom Teeth
Not everyone will need to have their wisdom teeth
extracted. In fact, some people have the teeth erupt and align properly, and when the gum tissue is healthy, they can stay in the mouth with no problem. Unfortunately, this is a rare occurrence, and extraction will be needed when the teeth become impacted, meaning they aren't able to properly erupt through the gums. In other cases, they might grow in sideways or only partially penetrate the gums. When teeth are impacted, they can be oriented sideways, at odd angles, or even backwards.
If your wisdom teeth have erupted partially, you can experience some significant problems. A pocket can develop in which food and bacteria are caught, and this can cause infection and severe pain. Symptoms of a problem include pain, stiffness, fever, nausea, vomiting and swelling.
When your wisdom teeth erupt, this pressure can cause the other teeth to move. This can disrupt the natural alignment of the teeth, and if you've had orthodontic work in the past, this movement can reverse any progress that you enjoyed.
Severe problems can arise when the wisdom teeth develop tumors or cysts around them. These conditions are critical and can be extremely destructive, and some patients will need bone grafting or jaw surgery. Fortunately, many of the complications associated with wisdom teeth impaction can be prevented as long as the teeth are removed early.
Examining the Wisdom Teeth
We meet with patients in order to examine and evaluate the state of the wisdom teeth, and we can provide recommendations on whether or not we think your wisdom teeth might become a problem in the future. To do this, we'll need to take a panoramic radiograph and will review the results of your oral evaluation. Research has shown that early intervention will allow for fewer complications following surgery, so if possible we will start evaluating you during your mid-teen years to see how your wisdom teeth are progressing.
When your wisdom teeth are removed, you will typically be sedated so that you can be as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure. Our surgeon has the specialized licenses, education, training and experience needed to sedate patients, and we’ll use your medical history and unique needs to choose the best method of sedation. As always, we will use your consultation to discuss the procedure and any surgical risks so that you know exactly what to expect when you have your wisdom teeth removed.
If your dentist has advised that you get your wisdom teeth removed in the near future, please call us at 503-662-8744 to set up your consultation. We will thoroughly explain the surgery so you can fully explore your options for successful removal of your wisdom teeth.