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Wisdom tooth

The Why’s and How’s of Adult Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Wisdom teeth are the final teeth to come in. For most people, they don’t make an appearance until the late teenage years or even into your 20’s. If everything goes correctly, erupted wisdom can last a lifetime with proper care. However, it is not usuals for many people to experience problems with the wisdom teeth many years after they erupt. Research shows that 90% of people suffer from at least one impacted wisdom tooth and 12% of wisdom teeth will eventually cause infection in the gums if they’re not removed.

 

Do You Need to Remove Your Wisdom Teeth?

If wisdom teeth are not bothering you, and your general dentist can not find any evidence of wisdom teeth contributing towards disease in the mouth, then there is usually no need to consider removal of your wisdom teeth. However, it is possible for wisdom teeth to develop issues years after they erupt.

Wisdom teeth that have fully erupted and can be reached for proper cleaning may not require removal. As long as they are correctly positioned, these teeth can be used for chewing and biting at the back of your mouth. Eventually, though, most people will need wisdom tooth extraction in addition to regular dental care.

 

Partially Erupted Wisdom Teeth

Since there is limited space in the mouth for your teeth, wisdom teeth may not have enough space to come in properly. This may result in the teeth coming in on an angle.

Decay is common in wisdom teeth, as they are so far back in the mouth that it is challenging to clean them properly. It’s also quite difficult to remove the food particles or plaque that can collect in pockets formed by partially erupted teeth. The result may be an infection that can destroy both teeth and gum tissue. Pericoronitis, an inflammatory gum disease, is also a risk in these circumstances.

 

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

An impacted wisdom tooth is a more complicated situation than a completely erupted wisdom tooth. Impaction simply means the tooth has grown at an angle that makes it impossible to fully break through the gums. An impacted wisdom tooth can stay symptom-free and remain under the surface of the gums for some time, but if the tooth becomes infected or begins to put pressure on nerves or other teeth, you may notice:

  • Bleeding or sensitive gums in the area of the tooth
  • Pain and swelling in the jaw
  • Swollen or reddened gums
  • A bitter or rotten taste
  • Pain when opening your mouth
  • Bad breath

The pressure from the wisdom tooth is not only painful but can shift your other teeth. This may undo years of orthodontic treatments, or it can push otherwise perfect teeth into odd positions. When teeth are pressed too closely together, it’s difficult to clean properly between the teeth, which may result in more cavities forming.

Finally, it’s possible for cysts to develop due to the sac where wisdom teeth form. This sac normally ruptures as the tooth erupts through the gums, but it may fill with fluid in some cases. This isn’t usually dangerous in itself, but it can cause damage to the surrounding nerves and jawbone. It may even end up creating a non-cancerous tumor that requires removal. This sort of cyst or tumor can damage surrounding tissue and bone, which is a very good reason to talk to an oral surgeon for any type of complex wisdom tooth removal.

 

When to See an Oral Surgeon

You should have regular checkups with a general dentist to ensure any problems are caught early. If you are between visits and notice any of the above symptoms or pain at the very back of your mouth where the wisdom tooth is erupting, talk to your dentist to get a referral to an oral surgeon.

Adult wisdom tooth extraction requires specialty dental care. An oral surgeon is necessary to ensure the problematic tooth is removed safely and without further impact to the other teeth. As you’ve seen previously in this article, some serious complications may occur and oral surgeons are trained to treat such issues.

An oral surgeon will let you know if your wisdom teeth need to be removed, and if they do recommend. It is usually a good idea to start with an initial consult appointment with your oral surgeon. At this time, the surgeon will review your x-ray and medical history to determine if the procedure should be done while sedated. This treatment plan will detail all the dental codes recommended for the procedure. This allows our insurance team to check with your insurance provider for coverage and determine if there is a co-pay. Many insurance plans offer pre-authorization and our office is more than happy to submit on behalf of the patient. For patients with dental anxiety it is also possible to provide pre-medication to start taking the night before.

Oral Surgery offices perform many extraction procedures everyday so with proper planning, your extraction appointment should be rather route, allowing you to get back home and start the healing process.

 

What to Expect From Adult Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Many people have their wisdom teeth extracted when they first erupt, usually at the end of the teenage years because the tooth may have erupted, but the tooth roots have yet to fully develop into the jawbone, a process that can take several years. Thus, it is easier to extract under-develped tooth roots with minimal damage to surrounding tissue, though this procedure still needs to be done by an oral surgeon. If you aren’t having any issues you can wait to have the teeth extracted, though your oral surgeon may suggest removal before problems occur to prevent any pain and irritation you may face later on.

As mentioned, a patient’s medical background determines the type of anesthesia to use during the extraction. IV General Sedation is sometimes recommended for complex cases or where the patient might not be able to keep still. Numbing medication is applied to the site, and the actual extraction takes place.

You will likely have sutures in the area where the tooth was removed. Typical healing period for wisdom teeth extraction is 3-5 days. If needed, we are more than happy to provide a school or work note for days missed.
No one wants to deal with the excruciating pain that comes with a toothache. If your wisdom teeth are causing you any pain or discomfort, make sure to contact Oral Surgery DC and schedule an appointment immediately.

When and Why Your Dentist Will Refer You to an Oral Surgeon

When it comes to the health of your mouth, it’s important to know which type of professional is best suited to handle the particular issues you are facing. Dentists focus on preventative care and also do cosmetic and restorative work like fillings, bridges, and even teeth whitening. On the other hand, oral surgeons are highly-trained specialists who concentrate on surgeries of the face and jaw. The two work together, and dentists will often refer patients to an oral surgeon if there is a problem that needs more advanced care.

In this article, we’ll explore a few of the most common reasons your dentist may refer you to the specialized care of an oral surgeon.

 

1. Removal of impacted teeth

Removing impacted wisdom teeth is a common procedure in most oral surgeons’ offices, but impaction can occur in other areas of the mouth as well. Impaction happens when a tooth doesn’t fully erupt from the gums. The most common causes of impaction are crowding or lack of space.

The third molars, often referred to as wisdom teeth, are the last to erupt and the easiest to become impacted. This can lead to adjacent tooth decay and gum disease, which is why dentists will often refer patients to an oral surgeon to take care of the problem.

 

2. Facial pain and jaw issues

Facial pain, popping sounds, and headaches are common symptoms of temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders. This joint connects the jaw to the skull. Research shows that about 5%-12% of the population suffers from it. Other jaw and joint disorders, either caused by accidents or present at birth, are common sources of oral surgeries.

Depending on the severity of the problem, there are different options for surgery — some ranging from minimally invasive (arthrocentesis) to full-on open joint surgery.

Because this is a focused area of the face, it’s important to have an oral surgeon evaluate and perform any procedures necessary. They have the advanced training and surgical knowledge to help alleviate pain and resolve jaw issues.

 

3. Dental implants

Dental implants are a surgical procedure that replaces the root with metal rods. Artificial teeth can also be added to aid in function and add a natural appearance. Because this is a surgery, it’s important to work with an oral surgeon in order to achieve the proper placement of the implants. Oral surgeons have experience dealing with the ins and outs of implant work and are also well versed to deal with any complications or issues that may arise.

Dental implant surgeries have increased in recent years because they are a solid alternative to dentures. Ill-fitting dentures can cause pain and various other dental issues, making implants a more desirable choice for many.

 

4. Snoring and Breathing Issues

Snoring is an uncomfortable and troubling sleep disorder that disrupts sleepers, or their partners. Snoring occurs when tissues in the throat relaxes enough and partially blocks the airway causing a vibrating sound, which can be soft or loud. Contrasted with sleep apnea, which is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep and may or may not be accompanied by snoring sound. Both conditions are potentially dangerous.

While the first step to eliminate the problem often comes in the form of weight loss, patients may also need to use a CPAP machine at night to help them breathe more easily.

For many people, snoring and sleep apnea may sound the same, but the two are different and it is sometimes possible to eliminate the snoring, yet have the characteristic stopping-and-starting of breathing during sleep of the sleep apnea persist. For this reason, a sleep analysis is recommended first.

Oral Surgeons get involved in severe forms of snoring. Usually after sleep analysis, the oral surgeon assesses the patient’s breathing obstruction and then if needed, perform surgery. Traditional surgery involves removing excess tissue near the throat. However, advances in the field of oral surgery now allow for excess tissue reduction to be done in office with the use of a laser. With no cutting or recovery period involved, snoring sufferers now have a much easier path to good sleep and health.

 

5. Cosmetic or reconstructive surgeries

Oral surgeons also work on correcting jaw and facial issues due to accidents, deformities, or traumas from pathology removal. These surgeries can often involve the restructuring of bones, tissues, and nerves. Extensive training, clinical practice, and years of study are needed to perform these complex procedures.

Some examples of these surgeries include cancer treatment and the removal of tumors, cysts, and lesions, along with cleft lip and cleft palate surgery.

 

6. Bone grafts

In order to support dental implants, a healthy jaw bone is necessary. Because of this, many oral surgeons recommend bone grafting before a patient receives their implants. This ensures there will be enough healthy bone in the mouth to secure the implants. Many patients looking to get dental implants do not have strong enough gums, so bone grafts are needed.

Bone grafts require the transplant of tissue, either from the patient or a donor, to initiate growth where bone is absent or limited. The procedure is a common one in oral surgeons’ offices, and they are able to leverage proven techniques to help encourage bone growth.

In addition to the procedures performed above, oral surgeons are also knowledgeable about general anesthesia, as many extensive surgical procedures may be better performed while the patient is asleep. Prescribing medications is another big job of oral surgeons. Depending on the extent of the surgery, surgeons will determine the level of pain management needed to ease patient discomfort while keeping them safe.

While your dentist is generally looking out for the health of your mouth and trying to prevent tooth and gum disease, there are some situations where an oral surgeon is needed. If you’re looking to get more information about Oral Surgery DC and the types of procedures we perform or how we can assist you, contact us today.

 

Image credits: Photo on Freepik.