Wisdom Teeth Presentation
To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.
By the age of 18, 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, canines, and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth (molar teeth) are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.
Over hundreds and thousands of years, our diets have become more refined, resulting in less tooth wear. Therefore, the existing teeth are maintaining more space for a longer period of time. Our jaws are also becoming less prominent, further decreasing the available space for our teeth. At present, the average mouth is only large enough to hold 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit within a mouth that will only hold 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”
Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly and the gum tissue is kept healthy, wisdom teeth do not need to be removed. Unfortunately, this only occurs in a small percentage of patients. In most other situations, they are impeded from proper eruption and removal of the wisdom teeth can be beneficial. Ideally, wisdom teeth are removed before the roots have completed development. Since patients can have vastly differing schedules of dental development, the ideal age for removal could be anywhere between the ages of 13 to 19. Advantages of having the wisdom teeth removed at the proper time include:
- Decreasing the future risk of caries and/or periodontal disease at the second molar sites
- Reducing the risk of infection from bacteria growing around a partially exposed tooth
- Decreasing the risk of lower lip and chin numbness as the roots have not had the opportunity to develop as far into the jaw bone where the nerve travels
- Reducing the risk of cyst or tumor formation around the developing tooth, which can destroy a significant portion of the jawbone
- Shortening the recovery time after surgery
Consultation, Oral Examination, and Radiographs
In order to determine the need for and proper timing of removal, an oral and radiographic examination is necessary. During a brief office consultation, our doctors will evaluate the wisdom teeth, diagnose any current disease, and predict the likelihood of future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in superior outcomes for patients, so an initial evaluation in the mid-teenage years is preferred. Your general dentist or orthodontist will likely refer you to our office during this time, but a referral is not necessary to have a consultation.
Once an examination has been performed and the radiographs have been reviewed, a treatment plan will be developed. Your surgeon will discuss the planned procedure, the pre-operative instructions, the potential risks and complications of the procedure, and the expected recovery. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and voice any concerns during this time. At this point, one of our surgical assistants will provide you with a written treatment plan and review your insurance benefits. Before you leave our office, you will have an understanding of the total cost of treatment, the insurance benefit we expect to obtain on your behalf, and your out-of-pocket cost for the procedure.
Wisdom Tooth Removal Overview
For a brief narrated overview of the wisdom tooth removal process, please click the image below. It will launch our educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about wisdom teeth.
The Day of the Procedure
In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under outpatient deep sedation/general anesthesia. However, Drs. Smith, Lustig, Banker, and Johnson have the training and expertise to provide an individually-tailored level of anesthesia based on the particular diagnosis, treatment plan, and patient’s desired level of comfort. Upon arrival to the office, you will be escorted to one of our surgical suites, anesthesia monitors (blood pressure cuff, EKG leads, etc.) will be applied, and an IV will be started. We use a freezing cold spray before the IV is inserted, so you will hardly feel it. This is one example of how the ArkLaTex experience will exceed your expectations!
After you are sedated, local anesthetic will be administered, so you will be comfortably numb upon awakening. Incisions are made in the gum to gain access to the underlying teeth. The teeth are then carefully divided into smaller pieces to facilitate removal. Once the teeth are removed, the gum is closed with a dissolving suture, so no removal of sutures is necessary. To help control bleeding, gauze will be placed over the surgical sites and you will be asked to bite gently against the gauze. You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your escort will receive post-operative instructions, a prescription for pain medication and antibiotics, and a follow-up appointment in one week.
During office hours if you have any questions, please call us at (318) 797-5812.
After hours, you may contact your surgeon on his personal cell phone. Our doctors’ cell phone numbers are listed in the post-operative instructions pamphlet you will be given after surgery. Have you ever received your doctor’s personal cell phone number? Welcome to the ArkLaTex experience!