Most Wisdom teeth that have erupted into the mouth are nonfunctional because of poor position due to lack of space. Since they are located in the back of the mouth they are difficult to clean and difficult to restore when they become decayed. Poorly positioned erupted wisdom teeth trap food and plaque and irritate the cheek. They are prone to developing dental caries (decay) and periodontal disease which can spread to involve adjacent teeth. There is no benefit to keeping nonfunctional or poorly functional wisdom teeth, in most cases these useless teeth are at risk for infection and should be removed.

Due to insufficient space, most wisdom teeth are unable to properly erupt into the mouth. The unerupted wisdom teeth remain trapped or “impacted” within the jawbone. Impacted teeth may grow vertically, sideways or backwards as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully. Often they will partially emerge from the gum as they seek out space in the mouth.

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted they are impossible to clean. The opening around the partially erupted wisdom tooth provides an environment that promotes bacterial growth which can cause tooth decay, gum inflammation, periodontal disease pain, infection, unpleasant tastes and odors, pressure from an erupting wisdom tooth may contribute to gum inflammation, pain, jaw stiffness and crowding of teeth.

Crowding and shifting of teeth due to pressure from erupting wisdom teeth is a particular concern following orthodontic therapy. Orthodontists will usually recommend an evaluation for removal of wisdom teeth to minimize the risk of orthodontic relapse or shifting of teeth after braces have been removed.

Studies have shown that patients treated at a young age generally experience a superior outcome compared to older patients. As wisdom teeth develop in older patients, the roots become longer and the jawbone becomes denser. Therefore it becomes more difficult to remove wisdom teeth with advancing age. Complications are more inclined to occur and healing proceeds more slowly in older patients. Patients are usually first evaluated for wisdom tooth removal in their mid-teenage years.

Prior to surgery:

A thorough review of your medical history, examination of your mouth and dental x-rays (panoramic radiograph) will be necessary so that our doctors can evaluate the wisdom teeth for present or future problems, present all treatment options and discuss benefits and risks of each option. Our dentists will review instruction to help you prepare for the procedure and answer all questions you may have regarding treatment.

There are several options available for wisdom tooth removal. During your consultation appointment, our dentists will assist you to select the anesthetic technique that best suits your needs.

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