Wisdom Teeth

What are Wisdom Teeth?

“Wisdom teeth” are a type of molar. Molars are the chewing teeth found furthest in the back of the mouth. Most humans have 1st, 2nd and 3rd molars. A person’s third molars are their wisdom teeth.

What are “impacted” wisdom teeth?

In dental terminology, an “impacted” tooth refers to a tooth that has failed to emerge fully into its expected position. This failure to erupt properly might occur because there is not enough room in the person’s jaw to accommodate the tooth, the tooth’s eruption path is obstructed by other teeth or because the angulation of the impacted tooth is improper.

Wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to the mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned. Often, however, problems develop that require their removal. When the jaw isn’t large enough to accommodate wisdom teeth, they can become impacted (unable to come in or misaligned). Wisdom teeth may grow sideways, emerge only part way from the gum or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.

Extraction of wisdom teeth is generally recommended when:

  • Wisdom teeth only partially erupt. This leaves an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection. Pain, swelling, jaw stiffness and general illness can result.
  • There is a chance that poorly aligned wisdom teeth will damage adjacent teeth.
  • A cyst (fluid-filled sac) forms, destroying surrounding structures such as bone or tooth roots.

Patients should ask the dentist about the health and positioning of their wisdom teeth. The dentist may make a recommendation for removal or send the patient to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.

What is an Oral Surgeon?

Oral surgeons, also known as oral and maxillofacial surgeons, are dental specialists who have not only completed 4 years of dental school, but have also completed at least four years of a surgical hospital residency. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained to treat and diagnose defects, injuries and diseases of the mouth, jaw, teeth, neck, gums and other soft tissues of the head.

Wisdom teeth removals, facial pain, TMJ, dental implants and removal of tumors and cysts are problems commonly treated by oral surgeons. Oral surgeons are also able to offer reconstructive surgery where facial trauma has been involved or for other esthetic reasons.

Oral Surgeons provide a very high quality of care and their advanced training in anesthesia allows them to provide an extreme level of patient comfort in the safety of our office.

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