The average human mouth is only made to hold 28 adult teeth. However, by the age of 18, the average person has a total of 32 teeth. The four extra molars are known as “wisdom teeth,” and for many people, they can cause a number of dental issues as well as discomfort if they are not removed. Most practices recommend the removal of wisdom teeth in adolescence as a preventative measure and as a general practice. But is this procedure really necessary? Read on to find out more.
Reasons for the Removal of Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are the final teeth in your mouth. If they come in properly and your gums are healthy, you may not need to have them removed. Unfortunately, this generally isn’t the case. Often, the teeth only emerge partially through the gums, or remain trapped beneath the bone. These impacted teeth can then rotate as they attempt to find a way to successfully come in, and may even grow sideways.
Poorly positioned and partially erupted teeth can cause a number of dental problems. Partially erupted teeth can increase the risk of bacteria, and may cause pain and swelling. They can also put pressure on the other teeth in your mouth, causing them to shift position and become misaligned. Impacted teeth can develop cysts or tumors which are not only incredibly painful, but can also disrupt the surrounding healthy teeth and jaw, as well. This is why many dentists recommend that wisdom teeth be removed as a preventative measure.
Determining if an Extraction Is Necessary
In order to determine if your wisdom teeth need to be extracted, your dentist will perform both a general oral examination and take dental X-rays. This will allow the dentist to see whether the teeth are positioned correctly, and to predict whether or not you will have future problems. The sooner this evaluation is done, the better. Ideally, this examination should occur in the early to mid-teen years in order to minimize the possibility of problems.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction Procedure
There are three options for anesthetic when patients must have their wisdom teeth extracted:
- Local anesthesia
- Laughing gas (nitrous oxide)
- General anesthesia
Before your procedure, your doctor will discuss these options with you, as well as the surgical risks, such as sinus complications or nerve damage, that you may encounter. The teeth will either be pulled, or surgically removed as necessary. In a general extraction, the dentist will use dental forceps and an elevator wedge to first loosen, and then pull the tooth. In a surgical extraction, more extensive procedures such as dental drilling may be required.
Extracting your wisdom teeth may take one or multiple procedures, based on your individual circumstance and preference. Once the teeth are extracted, you will be asked to bite down on a bit of gauze for 30-45 minutes in order to allow the blood to clot. In some cases, you may need to arrange for a ride home from our office, especially if you have been given general anesthesia.
To schedule your consultation with Dr. Trent Westernoff or Dr. Martin Mardirosian, and to learn more about wisdom teeth removal in Manhattan Beach, California, please contact Oral Surgery Partners at 310-375-0514.