MICHAEL MAZAHERI, DDS
The average adult is destined to have 32 teeth by the age of 18 each with its own function. Incisors are the teeth in the front of the mouth and along with canine and pre-molars grasp and bite food into small particles. The back teeth are known as molars and are designed to grind food into a consistency to swallow comfortably.
However, the average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It is often painful and uncomfortable when more than 28 teeth try to fit. 3rd molars or "wisdom teeth" are those four additional teeth which often create pain and discomfort upon eruption.
Should wisdom teeth be removed?
Wisdom teeth generally begin to erupt after 18 years of age and when they align ideally and have healthy soft tissues around them there is no need for them to be removed. Usually, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is needed when they area not erupted properly or grow to the side, partially are exposed, or stay completely impacted below the gum or bone.
Impacted wisdom teeth which are positioned improperly can cause numerous problems. When they are partially exposed the opening around the exposure allows food to trap and bacteria to grow and cause in infection known as pericoronitis. This infection usually results in severe pain, and sometimes cause swelling around the soft tissues of the involved tooth. Among the more serious complications that arise from impacted 3rd molars is the growth of tumors and cysts which can cause the destruction of the jaw bone. It is for these reasons that we sometimes recommend early removal to avoid future complications .
In most cases, if wisdom teeth are not severly impacted we can remove them under local anesthesia and laughing gas. For our extremly nervous patients we can also arrange a referral so that you may be sedated under general/IV anesthesia. The procedure may involved placement of stitches and a few days of recovery after. Postoperative instructions are given along with pain medication and sometimes antibiotics. We often will make a follow-up appointment in one week for removal of your stiches and evaluation of healing.