With an oral examination and X-rays of the mouth, Dr. Straw can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there are present or future potential problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by a dentist, orthodontist, or oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Most outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Our doctors are trained, licensed and highly experienced in providing various types of anesthesia for patients.
Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
If you do not have enough room in your mouth for your third molars to fully erupt, a number of problems can happen. Impacted wisdom teeth should be removed before their root structure is fully developed. In some patients, it is as early as 12 or 13, and in others, it may not be until the early twenties. Problems tend to occur with increasing frequency after the age of 30. Some of the possible problems related to not removing your wisdom teeth include:
- INFECTION: The most frequent clinical problem we see is pericoronitis, (a localized gum infection). Without enough room for total eruption, the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth can become irritated and infected, resulting in recurrent pain, swelling and problems with chewing and/or swallowing.
- CYST FORMATION: Non-infectious diseases may also arise in association with an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts are fluid-filled “balloons” inside the jawbone that develop as a result of impacted teeth and slowly expand destroying adjacent jawbone and occasionally teeth. They can be very difficult to treat if your wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years. Although rare, tumors can be associated with the delayed removal of wisdom teeth.
- POSSIBLE CROWDING: Impacted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of your teeth. This is most noticeable with the front teeth, primarily the lower front teeth, and is most commonly seen after a patient has had braces. There are a number of factors that cause teeth to crowd after braces or in early adulthood. Retained, impacted wisdom teeth may be a contributing factor. Unless you have an active problem when you see the oral surgeon, the reason for removal is primarily to prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums and jawbone.
- DAMAGE TO ADJACENT TEETH: If there is inadequate room to clean around the wisdom tooth, the tooth directly in front, the second molar, can be adversely affected resulting in gum disease, bone loss around the tooth and/or decay.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Although most people develop and grow 32 permanent adult teeth, their jaws are often too small to accommodate the four wisdom teeth. When inadequate space prevents the teeth from erupting, they are called impacted wisdom teeth. This indicates their inability to erupt into the proper position for chewing and cleaning.
We will need to see you for a consultation to determine if you will benefit from wisdom tooth removal. A special X-ray of your mouth and jaws (panorex) will be taken to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted, if there is room for them to erupt and how difficult it will be to have them removed.
After Wisdom Teeth Removal
In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under local anesthesia, laughing gas (nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia) or general anesthesia. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e. sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gum is sutured. To help control bleeding, bite down on the gauze placed in your mouth. You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home.
Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, antibiotics and a follow-up appointment in one week for suture removal. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us!
For more information about wisdom teeth removal in Irvine, California, or to schedule a consultation with our oral surgeon, Dr. Jason Straw, please call Orange County Oral Surgeons & Dental Implant Center at 949-727-7000.