By the age of eighteen, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth or molar teeth are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.
The average mouth is only able to accommodate 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your Third Molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”
Why should I have my third molars removed?
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly, room in the mouth is adequate, and surrounding gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of third molars are necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. These teeth that are positioned beneath or partially beneath the gums and the jawbone are known as "impacted" teeth. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully. These poorly positioned teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to invade, and will eventually result in an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may move other teeth and disrupt the proper alignment of the other teeth. The most serious problems occur when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and/or adjacent teeth. Removal of the offending tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal, typically in the teen years, is recommended to avoid such problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.
With an oral examination and X-rays of the mouth, we can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict the likelihood of present or future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients should be evaluated in the early and mid-teenage years by their Dentist, Orthodontist, and/or Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon.
In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under local anesthesia, laughing gas (nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia) or intravenous (IV) 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 tissues are sutured. To help control bleeding, patients will be instructed to bite down on gauze placed in the mouth. You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your post-operative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication and possibly antibiotics. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled in one week. If you have any questions, we can be contacted at 850-477-8482.
All services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff that are experienced in anesthesia techniques.