Did you know that the average adult has thirty-two teeth by age eighteen: sixteen teeth on the top, or maxilla and sixteen teeth on the bottom, or mandible? Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and very specific 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.
Did you know that the average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth, therefore, it can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that best holds only 28 teeth? These four other teeth, or extra teeth are your third molars, also known as "wisdom teeth."
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth, at approximately 18 years of age. Some adults get their wisdom teeth earlier or later. If they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are unable to properly erupt within the mouth.
Often times the wisdom teeth may grow sideways, or only partially emerge from the gum. It is very common that they remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully. Poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems, especially if they are left untreated for many years.
Partially erupted wisdom teeth create an opening around the tooth which can allow bacteria to grow. This bacteria growth will ultimately cause infection. This result will manifest itself into swelling, stiffness, pain and illness.
The erupting wisdom teeth may cause the other teeth to shift and disrupt the occlusion, requiring orthodontic care and realignment of teeth. This orthodontic care may have been avoided by simply removing the wisdom teeth at the early stages.
The most serious problems occur when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth. This may result in the deterioration or destruction of the jaw bone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these serious problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.
With an oral examination and a state-of-the-art i-CAT scan of the mouth, we can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems and treat the situation immediately. The i-CAT utilizes three-dimensional, cone beam technology. Our computer guided, three-dimensional x-ray of the teeth is invaluable in determining the position of the teeth relative to vital structures, such as nerves and sinuses.
Many 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 their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
All out-patient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia right in our office, to maximize patient comfort and convenience. Our surgeons have the training, licensing and experience to provide various types of anesthesia to allow patients to select the best alternative. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety, utilizing modern monitoring equipment and our well-trained staff is experienced in the latest anesthesia techniques and procedures.