Wisdom Teeth Removal – Why it Happens and What it Means
Wisdom Teeth Removal – All Your FAQs
Do you need your wisdom teeth removed?
We know you’re all thinking it. Why do wisdom teeth exist if we just get them removed? Hundreds of years ago, it was believed that this third set of molars could help us chew. These days, they aren’t necessary and are usually extracted after they erupt between the middle teenage years and early twenties.
Let’s take a look at why we need to remove wisdom teeth and what to expect during the procedure.
Signs of Wisdom Tooth Eruption
Most people have four wisdom teeth. However, some people only have one to three wisdom teeth or none at all. So how do you know when they are coming in?
Here are a few common symptoms:
- Pain and swelling behind the second set of molars.
- Jaw pain.
- Bad taste in your mouth or bad breath.
- White specks – they might already be erupting.
It’s important to pay attention to these signs because problems can happen if removal isn’t done soon after.
Why Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
If you don’t have enough room in your mouth for wisdom teeth to fully erupt, there can be problems. One of the most dangerous problems is impacted wisdom teeth. There are three different types.
- Soft tissue impaction. There is not enough room to allow the gum tissue to retract for adequate cleaning of the tooth.
- Partial bony impaction. There is enough space to allow the wisdom tooth to partially erupt. However, the tooth cannot function properly in the chewing process and creates problems including cleaning problems.
- Complete bony impaction. There is absolutely NO space for the tooth to erupt. The tooth will remain embedded in the jaw bone or if it’s partially visible, it will require complex surgical techniques for removal. The impacted wisdom tooth may also be in an unusual position and difficult to remove. This can also happen if the shape or size of the jaw bone and other facial structures make removal of this tooth significantly more complex.
A panorex is a special x-ray of your mouth and jaws can be performed to see if you have impacted wisdom teeth. It can also show our doctors if you have enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt and how difficult extraction will be.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
First of all, it’s important to us that all of our patients are comfortable during the procedure. So we offer local or general anesthesia and medications to aid with post-operative pain and swelling.
The procedure will happen in our office and usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. One of our doctors will make an incision and remove the bone that blocks access to the tooth root. They will then extract the tooth. If it’s easier for them to remove it in pieces, they will divide it into sections prior to extraction.
They will then clean each extraction site and stitch it closed if necessary. The stitches used will dissolve on their own. Gauze will be placed to help control any bleeding and help form clots.
After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
It’s possible that you may experience some complications after your wisdom teeth are removed. You can read about those complications and how to care for them in a previous blog here.
This is just a brief overview of wisdom teeth removal. For a more in-depth look including videos, see our wisdom teeth removal page. The Mayo Clinic has also put together some good general information regarding extraction.