Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom teeth removal is a surgical process designed to extract one or more wisdom teeth, the final set of permanent adult teeth situated at the rear corners of the upper and lower jaws.

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, typically emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood. While valuable when healthy, their late arrival often leads to complications.

When a wisdom tooth doesn’t have sufficient space to grow in, we might recommend extraction surgery. Some dental professionals may recommend wisdom teeth removal as a proactive measure to safeguard against potential complications.

WHAT IS AN IMPACTED TOOTH?

When there isn’t enough room for proper growth, wisdom teeth can remain partially or fully submerged beneath the gum line or jawbone. This situation, known as impacted wisdom teeth, means they can’t come in properly for effective chewing and cleaning, which can lead to pain, swelling, misalignment and an increased risk of infection.

A diagram half mouth X-ray with teeth impaction and half digital graphic highlighting impacted teeth

TYPES OF IMPACTIONS

A specialized x-ray of your mouth and jaws will be conducted to evaluate whether your wisdom teeth are impacted, assess the available space for eruption, and gauge the level of difficulty involved in their removal.

A representation of a wisdom tooth impacted by soft tissueSoft Tissue
An example of a wisdom tooth with a partial bony impactionPartial Bony
An illustration of a wisdom tooth completely impacted by boneComplete Bony

Soft Tissue Impaction occurs when there isn’t enough space for the gum tissue to retract properly, making it challenging to clean the impacted wisdom tooth adequately. This situation can lead to cleaning difficulties and oral hygiene challenges.

Partial Bony Impaction involves enough space for the wisdom tooth to partially emerge, but it can’t function effectively in the chewing process. This partial eruption may lead to complications such as cleaning problems and other issues.

Complete Bony Impaction occurs when there is no space for the tooth to erupt, leaving it embedded in the jawbone. Even if partially visible, removal requires complex surgical techniques. The impacted wisdom tooth may be in an unusual position, making extraction difficult. Factors like the shape and size of the jawbone and facial structures can further complicate the removal process, adding complexity to the surgical procedure.

WHY REMOVE WISDOM TEETH

A representation of a pericoronitis infection on a wisdom tooth

Infection:

One of the predominant clinical issues we often encounter is pericoronitis, a localized gum infection. When there isn’t adequate space for complete eruption, the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth can become easily irritated and susceptible to infection. This condition manifests with recurring pain, swelling, and challenges in activities like chewing and swallowing.

An example of a cyst formation on a wisdom tooth

Cyst Formation:

Cysts, akin to fluid-filled “balloons” within the jawbone, develop due to the impact of the teeth and gradually expand. In some instances, they can lead to the destruction of adjacent jawbone and, occasionally, neighboring teeth. Addressing cyst formation becomes notably challenging if wisdom teeth removal is delayed.

An illustration of teeth crowding caused by a wisdom tooth

Possible Crowding:

Considering the long-term health of your teeth, impacted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding, particularly noticeable with the front teeth, often after orthodontic treatment like braces. Various factors contribute to teeth crowding in adulthood, and retained, impacted wisdom teeth can exacerbate the issue. Removal, unless there’s an active problem, primarily aims to prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums, and jawbone.

A visual of a wisdom tooth damaging an adjacent tooth

Damage to Adjacent Teeth:

In addition to infection and other complications, impacted wisdom teeth pose a threat to adjacent teeth, notably the second molars. Inadequate room for proper cleaning around the wisdom tooth can adversely affect the neighboring tooth, leading to gum disease, bone loss, and decay.

BENEFITS OF WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL

The benefits of wisdom teeth removal are numerous and play a crucial role in maintaining overall oral health. Here are some key advantages:

  • Prevention of Pain and Discomfort: Wisdom teeth, especially when impacted or misaligned, can cause persistent discomfort. Extraction brings relief from ongoing pain.
  • Reduced Risk of Infection: Wisdom teeth create pockets where bacteria can gather, leading to infection and swelling. Extraction lowers the risk of oral infections and associated health problems.
  • Prevention of Gum Disease: These teeth can be difficult to clean properly and may contribute to gum disease. Removal helps prevent the development of gingivitis or more severe periodontal conditions.
  • Protection of Surrounding Teeth:The pressure from impacted wisdom teeth can cause damage to neighboring teeth, leading to misalignment or crowding. Removal protects the integrity of surrounding teeth.
  • Lower Risk of Oral Health Complications: Proactively addressing impaction lowers the risk of complications such as cysts, tumors, and damage to the jawbone.

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL

The ideal age for wisdom teeth removal is typically in the mid-teenage years, ranging from around 15 to 21. During this period, the roots of the wisdom teeth are still forming, and the jawbone is less dense, making for a smoother recovery.

However, the exact timing can vary for each individual. Wisdom teeth may start to emerge as early as age 14 or may remain impacted and not fully emerge until the early twenties. Monitoring the development of wisdom teeth through regular dental check-ups and X-rays is essential to determine the optimal time for removal based on individual circumstances.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE MY WISDOM TEETH REMOVED AS A TEENAGER OR YOUNG ADULT?

If you choose not to have your wisdom teeth removed as a teenager or young adult, there are several considerations to keep in mind:

  • Complications with Age: As wisdom teeth develop, their roots become longer, and the jawbone denser. Delaying removal until your thirties, forties, or beyond may result in a more complicated post-operative course. The healing process may be slower, and the chance of complications, such as infection, could increase.
  • Increased Post-Operative Challenges: The post-operative course for wisdom teeth removal tends to be more prolonged in older individuals. Treating complications may be more difficult and less predictable than in younger patients.
  • Delayed Healing: Healing may be slower in older individuals, and the overall recovery process might take more time compared to when the procedure is performed in the teens or early twenties.
  • Higher Complication Rate: There is generally a higher complication rate when removing impacted wisdom teeth in later years. Issues like prolonged discomfort, increased risk of infection, and slower healing may be more prevalent.
  • Localized Problems May Develop: If your impacted wisdom teeth are left untreated, localized issues such as cyst formation, gum disease, and bone loss may develop. Addressing these problems in later years can be more challenging.

WHAT IS THE COST OF WISDOM TOOTH REMOVAL

The cost of your treatment is influenced by various factors, such as the complexity of the tooth removal and the optimal anesthesia type for your case. 

In your consultation, the surgeon will review your x-rays, conduct an examination, and assess the most suitable anesthesia option before offering an accurate estimate. Insurance coverage for surgical procedures varies among providers, and our office staff will assist you in maximizing your insurance benefits for the treatment.

CONSULTATION PROCESS

Our consultation process is designed to ensure that you receive personalized care tailored to your specific needs.

  • X-Rays: One of our expert oral surgeons will carefully examine your X-rays to understand the position of your wisdom teeth and any potential complications.
  • Examination: We’ll perform a detailed examination to assess the overall health of your oral cavity and identify any indicators for wisdom tooth removal.
  • Anesthesia Options: An oral surgeon will evaluate the most suitable anesthesia option for your comfort during the procedure.
  • Treatment Plan: Based on the findings, our oral surgeon will create a customized treatment plan, outlining the steps involved in the wisdom tooth removal process.
  • Costs and Insurance: Our team will provide clarity on the expected costs, considering factors such as extraction difficulty and anesthesia type.

All 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.

WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS BEFORE SURGERY?

We prioritize open communication and patient education throughout the consultation process, ensuring that you are well-informed and confident in your decision. Should new questions emerge after your consultation, our dedicated team is just a phone call away. Reach out to our office at 412-532-9720. to connect with our patient care coordinators. Your peace of mind is our priority, and we’re here to assist you every step of the way.

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY WISDOM TEETH ARE REMOVED?

Many individuals opt for sedation to make the experience of wisdom teeth removal more comfortable. During your consultation, we will discuss appropriate anesthesia options tailored to your needs. All outpatient procedures are conducted with the utmost focus on patient comfort under the guidance of our well-trained, licensed office staff proficient in various anesthesia techniques. Our commitment to safety includes regular inspections by the Board of Dental Examiners, ensuring the highest standards in surgical care, facilities, and staff.

Thanks to recent advancements in medicine and technology, patients experience a swift recovery with minimal post-operative discomfort. We adhere to state-of-the-art sterilization and infection control techniques to ensure patient safety.

The Day of Treatment

Please do not eat or drink anything prior to your surgery. Having anything in your stomach can increase the risk for serious anesthetic complications.

Procedure

On the day of the procedure, medications are administered to minimize post-operative pain and swelling. We require that a parent or responsible adult accompany you, remaining with you for the rest of the day.

smiling teenage son with his mother

The Day of Treatment

Be sure to have an adult with you at the time of removal. Make plans to have a parent or responsible adult stay with you for the rest of the day, following wisdom tooth removal. 

Time Commitment

The entire procedure typically takes 30 to 60 minutes, with an approximate total time spent in the office of 90 minutes. 

Preparation

A smiling woman

The Day of Treatment

Please do not eat or drink anything prior to your surgery. Having anything in your stomach can increase the risk for serious anesthetic complications.

Preparation for surgery involves abstaining from food and drink for at least 8 hours before the scheduled appointment, excluding prescription medications taken with a sip of water. This precaution is vital to minimize the risk of anesthetic complications, such as nausea and vomiting. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in rescheduling the procedure. 

Prescriptions

Prescriptions for pain medication and any other necessary medications will be sent to your pharmacy electronically. In the surgical room, our focus is on your comfort, especially if you opt for sedation. An IV is typically placed in your left arm for optimal medication delivery, followed by local anesthesia for added comfort. 

Post-procedure

Ensure that an adult accompanies you during the wisdom tooth removal procedure. Plan for a parent or responsible adult to stay with you for the remainder of the day following the extraction.

Stitches

In cases where stitches are necessary, these are typically of the dissolvable type, eliminating the need for removal. 

Pain Medication

After the local anesthesia wears off, you may need prescription pain medication. We will review a regimen of non-narcotic anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief. If needed, you can then begin your prescribed pain medication.

The effects of the local anesthesia may linger until the following day and should not be confused with nerve injury.

Diet

For your post-operative diet, start with clear liquids such as jello and broths, gradually progressing to more substantial foods as your body allows. If antibiotics are prescribed and you take birth control pills, be aware that the efficacy of the birth control pills might be compromised, so take appropriate precautions.

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You can  schedule an appointment online or over the phone.

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