Wisdom Teeth Removal
What are Wisdom Teeth?
A wisdom tooth is commonly known as a third molar, because it appears as the third molar in each of the four quadrants. The common name is “wisdom teeth” because they appear so late – much later than the other teeth, at an age where people are presumably “wiser” than as a child, when the other teeth erupt. Wisdom teeth usually erupt in the mouth between the ages of 17 and 25. Most people have four wisdom teeth, but it is possible to have fewer than four, more than four (also known as supernumerary teeth) or no wisdom teeth at all.
What is the Purpose of Wisdom Teeth?
Many people believe that humans used to have larger jaws which were able to accommodate more teeth. As humans evolved, their jaws became smaller, but third molars still commonly develop in human mouths. Wisdom teeth are considered “vestigial,” because they no longer serve a purpose.
Do I Need a Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
Wisdom teeth commonly affect other teeth as they develop, becoming impacted or coming in sideways. Wisdom teeth are extracted because they either have already become impacted, or they could possibly cause certain problems if not extracted.
Wisdom teeth can also cause other problems which require the teeth to be extracted, including:
- Infections caused by bits of food trapped in the jaw area behind the wisdom teeth where conventional brushing and flossing is difficult and ineffective
- Misalignment which rubs up against the tongue or cheek causing pain
- Potential crowding or maloclussion of teeth
What is a Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
The dentist will usually take x-rays and do an exam to determine if the wisdom teeth are impacted or if there is any infection in the mouth. If you have any infections, surgery will usually be delayed until the infection has cleared up. Your dentist may have you take antibiotics to help 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. You may also choose to have oral sedation, which 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 that you are prepared for the anesthetic.
To remove the wisdom tooth, your dentist will open up the gum tissue over the tooth and take out any bone that is covering the tooth. He or she will separate the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone and then remove the tooth. Sometimes the dentist will cut the tooth into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove.
After the tooth is removed, you may need stitches. Some stitches dissolve over time and some have to be removed after a few days. Your dentist will tell you whether your stitches need to be removed. A folded cotton gauze pad placed over the wound will help stop the bleeding.