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, canine and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth or molars are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.
Wisdom Teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. In most people, Wisdom Teeth erupt abnormally or remain impacted.
Download our Post Operative Instructions for Wisdom Teeth Removal.
The extraction of Wisdom Teeth is necessary when they do not properly erupt into the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum and even remain impacted – 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 problems:
Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment of Wisdom Teeth result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their Dentist or Orthodontist.
With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Blaine Austin can evaluate the position of the Wisdom Teeth and reveal important features such as curved roots, proximity of the tooth roots to nerves, and other vital surgical information that can be determined by visually inspecting the mouth. A complete medical history will also be taken, with particular attention to allergies, medications or health problems that might affect surgery and/or the administration of anesthesia.
All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Blaine Austin has the training and experience to provide various types of anesthesia for patients to select the best alternative. In most cases, the removal of Wisdom Teeth is performed under IV anesthesia; other options include laughing gas (nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia) or local anesthesia. Anesthesia options as well as any surgical risks will be discussed with you during your initial consultation, before the procedure is performed.
You will be given specific post-operative instructions to follow after your surgery is completed. As your mouth heals, your jaw may be sore and may not open as wide as usual. After a few days, moist heat applied to the face may be helpful, and gentle opening and closing of the mouth can help exercise the jaws and restore normal movement.
Most patients are able to resume light activities within two days. Vigorous physical activity can generally be resumed in about one week.