Do You Need Oral Surgery to Remove Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

Evolution has rendered wisdom teeth useless, and a high percentage of these unnecessary molars eventually require removal. When a wisdom tooth, otherwise known as a third molar, cannot erupt into proper alignment, it is called impacted. Oral surgery to extract impacted wisdom teeth may be considered if you have the following problems:

  • Mouth pain and bite problems caused by damage to surrounding teeth created from crowding caused by the extra molars.
  • Jaw and nerve damage caused by cysts that form around the impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Sinus pain, pressure and congestion resulting from problems with wisdom teeth.
  • Inflamed and infected gum tissue created because the area around impacted wisdom teeth is difficult to clean properly.
  • Cavities which develop due to infected gums that allow pockets to form between gums, allowing bacteria to grow.
  • Alignment issues that alter the effects of braces, bridges, crowns and partial dentures due the crowding created by impacted wisdom teeth.

To diagnose impacted wisdom teeth, your dental professional will look for signs of infection or swollen gums. Your dentist will also inquire about your regular oral hygiene habits. The diagnosis of impacted wisdom teeth can be confirmed with dental x-rays, which may also reveal damage to the other teeth or jawbone.

When making a decision with your dentist about wisdom tooth extraction, it’s important to consider your age. Typically third molars erupt between the ages of 16 and 25 years. Younger patients experience considerably fewer complications with oral surgery for wisdom tooth extraction than older adults.

If your dental professional recommends removal due to the diagnosis of an impacted wisdom tooth, ask for a referral to a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ensure a successful and complication-free oral surgery.


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What are Wisdom Teeth and Why Do They Need to Come Out?

Wisdom teeth are really just your third molars, located in the very back of your tooth arch and are the last of your adult teeth to erupt. They most commonly erupt between the ages of 17 and 20. Most people have them, but for some people, these third molars simply do not develop. Some patients might have more than one set of wisdom teeth! Only an x-ray can reveal the complete story.

A high number of patients who possess wisdom teeth don’t know they have them because the teeth are impacted, or stuck underneath already erupted teeth, as opposed to erupting normally through the gums. This is when wisdom teeth become problematic.

The patient’s jaw may be too small to allow for the full eruption of the wisdom tooth, leading to it becoming stuck in the jaw, pushing at other teeth, causing pain and shifting of the teeth. The tooth might be able to erupt partially, triggering a flap of gum tissue to develop over the tooth, trapping bacteria and germs which can lead to serious infection.

Sometimes wisdom teeth come in at strange angles, facing sideways or backward, or they develop a serious infection and damage the surrounding teeth. They can also lead to the development of a cyst or cause damage to the jawbone.

If your dentist has told you that you need to have your wisdom teeth out, it’s a good idea to listen and to follow that advice. Removing problematic wisdom teeth can reduce crowding in the mouth, infection in the gums or tooth decay in the wisdom tooth or in the surrounding teeth.

The younger you are when you have your wisdom teeth removed, the easier it is to recover. Ask your dentist to learn more about wisdom teeth and about your particular needs as a patient.


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Wisdom Teeth Symptoms

Your “third molars”, which are the molars in the very back that are the last to erupt, usually start to appear during the late teen years. They may not emerge for everyone, but when they do show up they are often problematic. Most people’s jaws don’t have room for them, and sometimes they are impacted and unable to erupt at all. Here are some common symptoms that you can watch for so you’ll know when your wisdom teeth might be the culprit.

The main thing many people notice is pain as their wisdom teeth develop. These teeth in the far back of your mouth, often two upper and two lower teeth, are very unpredictable. Sometimes they erupt sideways or crooked, causing your other teeth to become misaligned or overcrowded. If your wisdom teeth erupt, you might see them poking through your gums and creating an area of tenderness, inflammation, and redness. It can be painful to eat and brush your teeth. When wisdom teeth pain is very bothersome, dentists usually recommend removing them.

You may be one of the lucky people who don’t experience wisdom tooth pain. However, there are a host of other symptoms associated with these teeth. Some of these include:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Facial swelling
  • Nausea
  • Pus
  • Lymph gland swelling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Bad breath
  • Problems chewing and brushing
  • Cysts around impacted wisdom teeth

Any of the above symptoms warrant a visit to your dentist. Even if wisdom teeth aren’t the cause, you should find out what’s behind these problems. If your dentist determines that your wisdom teeth are impacted, you will be advised to have them surgically removed usually by an experienced oral surgeon. Wisdom teeth extraction is a common procedure, so you shouldn’t hesitate to follow your dentist’s recommendation to take care of any problems with these teeth. Once you have recovered from this surgery, you will be glad the symptoms are gone and you no longer have to worry about your wisdom teeth.


We treat patients from Clinton NJ and the surrounding area

Wisdom Teeth Can be a Pain

Tooth pain can be one of the most uncomfortable types of pain there is. It can make your whole jaw and head ache, interfere with eating, and cause your teeth to be more sensitive. One common reason for a toothache is your wisdom teeth, which are the molars in the very back of your mouth that develop last. Sometimes they don’t even erupt, but they can still be there under your gums causing trouble. If you experience pain related to wisdom teeth, here are some suggestions.

Make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. This way you can find out for sure if your wisdom teeth are to blame for your pain, and decide the best treatment plan for your situation. A dentist examination, which may include x-rays, is the best way to determine exactly what’s going on with your teeth. You may not even be able to see your wisdom teeth, but they might be growing improperly under your gums. Often, wisdom teeth need to be extracted to avoid continued pain or worsening condition. Luckily, wisdom teeth extraction is a common procedure that your dentist or oral surgeon is very familiar with, and can provide you with great treatment that will end up relieving your pain.

While waiting for your dental appointment, try applying an over-the-counter numbing gel such as Oragel. This may help relieve your pain at least for a short time. Also, taking non-prescription pain medicines should help. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are both good choices to try, especially to subdue the pain when you want to sleep.

Remember that prevention is often the best way to avoid dental pain. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss every day. See your dentist regularly for checkups, because problems with wisdom teeth can sometimes be spotted before you ever begin to feel any pain associated with them. This allows you to deal with the problem before you have to endure a toothache.


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How to Prepare Your Child for Wisdom Teeth Extraction

If your teen is scheduled to have wisdom teeth extraction surgery, you might be feeling stressed-out about the procedure and how you can best prepare for what’s to come. Surgery can be frightening. As the adult, it’s your role to get the information you need and to educate and calm your teen so that you both have a feeling of confidence and safety during all steps of the oral surgery.

Don’t mislead your teen about the procedure or recovery time. Talk about the reasons the wisdom teeth need to be extracted; be honest about the issues. Talk about the oral surgeon and his or her qualifications and why this particular surgeon was chosen. Help give your teen a sense of trust in the surgeon, to help calm his or her nerves.

Listen to everything your child has to say regarding the surgery. Validate all your child’s feelings and statements and offer any guidance you can from your own life’s experiences. Be open to allowing a conversation between the surgeon and your teen. Your oral surgeon has experience in dealing with fearful patients and can often remedy fearful thoughts and feelings more efficiently than a parent.

Reassure your child that you won’t be far away during or after the procedure. Even though your teen may be already in college, surgical procedures can be frightening and you might be surprised at how much your teen may lean on you, emotionally and physically during this time.

Answer any of your child’s questions honestly. Go over any parts of the surgery that are confusing to your teen. This knowledge can restore a sense of control to the patient, and allow the patient to feel prepared to recover.

Your teen’s oral maxillofacial surgeon wants your teen to be comfortable during the surgery. Sedation dentistry options may be offered as early as the night before, so that the patient can be well-rested and calm for the procedure.


We treat patients from Clinton NJ and the surrounding area

Having Wisdom Teeth Surgery as an Adult

If you didn’t have your wisdom teeth out as a young person, you may be wondering about having them out as an adult. Your dentist may have recommended that you prevent future infections, cysts or pain in the jaw due to wisdom teeth that are growing under other teeth – known as impacted teeth. Even a type of tumor has been linked to impacted wisdom teeth.

Impacted teeth result when the wisdom tooth grows up under an existing tooth. Sometimes, adults have wisdom teeth that come in completely straight behind back molars. In rare cases, one or more of these teeth don’t grow at all. An x-ray can reveal the presence of the teeth. Impacted teeth cause problems with existing teeth and must come out.

Because the roots of wisdom teeth typically fully develop near the age of 24, removing them after this time can be more complicated. Roots can entwine with facial nerves, making extraction problematic. It’s recommended that adults receive a CT scan of their jaw, showing the clear positioning of facial nerves and roots, something not shown by x-rays. If the roots of the lower wisdom teeth aren’t touching or wrapped around the alveolar nerve, extraction is still possible.

Adults with wisdom teeth are at higher risk for gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to an increase of pregnancy complication and other health issues. Previously believed only to affect patients in their late 30s, this gum disease is now being shown to affect much younger patients, especially young pregnant women. Growing evidence is also connecting gum disease to inflammation due to chronic infections in the body, leading to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Talk to your dentist today to see if you should have your wisdom teeth removed. Be honest about any symptoms you’re having, such as pain or pressure, and let the professional evaluate your specific situation.


We treat patients from Clinton NJ and the surrounding area

Getting smart about wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth got their name because they are the final teeth to develop, usually in the late teens to early twenties, at a time when a person becomes fully mature or “wise.” Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars in the very back of the mouth. Most people have four total (two upper and two lower), but others never develop them at all. Wisdom teeth can be a valuable chewing aid, but often they are poorly aligned or don’t develop properly.

How do I know if I have them?:
Unless you start to feel them breaking through, you may not know whether you have wisdom teeth or not. Ask your dentist to examine you to see if these teeth are healthy and properly positioned. An x-ray may be required, and your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon to be evaluated further.

Do wisdom teeth hurt?:
You don’t always feel anything with your wisdom teeth, but sometimes they are very bothersome. You may experience pain when they erupt in awkward positions, especially if the teeth rub against your mouth. Other problems include stiffness in the area, infected swelling of the gums, tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth crowding.

Why remove them?:
Your dentist or oral surgeon might suggest that your wisdom teeth be extracted. They can often predict if your wisdom teeth may crowd or damage other teeth, your jawbone, or nerves. Sometimes removal is appropriate before problems arise, in an effort to avoid more complicated or painful extractions later. Removal is usually simpler and less risky in young people. If your wisdom teeth are not extracted, it’s important for your dentist to continue monitoring them because problems may develop later.

What does impacted mean?:
Wisdom teeth may be impacted, which means they are enclosed in the soft tissue or jawbone or they only partially erupt through the gum. Impacted wisdom teeth are almost always removed to avoid risks of infection, tooth decay, and gum disease.

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Don’t Fear Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Many people are afraid of getting their wisdom teeth out based on horror stories from the internet or scary tales exaggerated by others. The best way to fight these fears is to learn more about the procedure and what you can truly expect.

The first thing to know is that wisdom teeth extractions are the most common oral surgeries. Most oral surgeons perform an average of one a day, so that experience has provided skill and expertise in the procedure. Also, you will be under some degree of anesthesia. Whether it’s general anesthesia or even just nitrous oxide (laughing gas), you won’t feel anything during the surgery and won’t remember what happened afterwards.

One common fear is the bleeding associated with wisdom teeth extractions. While there is some bleeding from the site after surgery, it is usually easily controlled by following the after-care instructions. You will be told to gently bite on gauze in that area of your mouth, and change it frequently. Propping your head up will help limit the bleeding also.

Swelling is another reason some fear this surgery, but it should be gone in just a few days. You can hold ice packs to the outside of your cheek off and on for the first 24 hours to decrease the swelling.

The recovery process should go smoothly if you follow your oral surgeon’s advice. Have someone drive you to and from the appointment, and eat soft foods at first. Do not use a straw for the first few days, and avoid touching the area with your fingers or tongue. Also, do not smoke for at least the first 24 hours following surgery.

While there are risks associated with any surgery, most wisdom teeth extractions are without complications and recovery is complete in just a few days to a week. The benefits of having the surgery outweigh the risk of ignoring your dentist’s advice to have your wisdom teeth removed.


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Playing it Smart After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Surgery to remove wisdom teeth is one of the most common procedures that oral surgeons and dentists perform. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions afterwards for the best chances of quick and complete recovery. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself after wisdom tooth extraction.

Watch your diet:
Your dentist will give you a list of suggested foods you can it after surgery, and ones to avoid. Stick with soft or liquid foods for the first couple of days, and do not eat hard or sharp foods like chips. Avoid carbonated drinks, hot beverages, and spicy foods because they can irritate your surgery site. After the first few days, begin introducing your regular diet as is comfortable.

Take your medications:
You will likely receive a prescription for painkillers to help relieve discomfort, as well as reduce swelling. This in turn can lower your risk for infection too. Take your medication as prescribed by your dentist for the optimum results. If your extraction is simple, prescription medication may not be required. You can take over-the-counter medications if your dentist agrees and you follow the directions on the label. Do not take aspirin, however, because it can thin your blood and increase bleeding at your extraction site.

Brush carefully:
Instead of brushing with your toothbrush, gently wipe the site with clean, wet gauze. Rigorous brushing can hurt the healing process, and you should even avoid rinsing your mouth for at least 24 hours after surgery. On the second day, you can rinse your mouth gently with salty water. Do not spit forcefully, which can dislodge the blood clot on your extraction site. Also, do not rinse with mouthwash that contains any alcohol.

Avoid alcohol and tobacco:
Drinking alcohol may thin your blood, prevent clotting, and delay healing. Smoking can have similar effects, as well as dislodge the clot when you inhale on a cigarette. For the best chances of healing, avoid these products for at least 24 hours after wisdom tooth extraction.


Our dental office is located in Clinton NJ

Wisdom Teeth: Is it Wise to Wait?

Most dental professionals recommend having third molars, or wisdom teeth, removed in early adulthood, preferably before they are fully formed and rooted into the jaw. Generally, this means having wisdom teeth extracted between the ages of 17 and 25. Waiting until you are older to have wisdom teeth removed can have considerable risks and complications.

Wisdom teeth that are not removed create the following risks:

  • Impaction caused by wisdom teeth that do not have sufficient room to grow, causing pain and potential disease and damage to adjacent teeth.
  • Tooth decay from wisdom teeth that are difficult to keep clean.
  • Infection caused by bacteria that is harbored in the wisdom tooth eruption site.
  • Growth of tumors and cysts caused by severely impacted wisdom teeth.

For patients who need to have wisdom teeth removed later in life, complications can include:

  • More complicated removal surgery to eliminate deeply rooted or impacted wisdom teeth that results in longer surgery recovery time.
  • Roots that have grown close to the nerve that affects the feeling in the lower lip might be injured in surgery, causing permanent nerve damage.

If you or your young adult have emerging wisdom teeth, schedule a consultation with your dentist to determine if and when they should be removed. While some patients will not need to have their third molars extracted, in most cases, having wisdom teeth removed as they are erupting can help to avoid a host of future problems. When wisdom tooth extraction is performed early, recovery time and risk of complications are drastically reduced for most patients.


Our dental office is located in Clinton NJ