The removal of third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, is one of the most common procedures performed by an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. They are the reason most people first visit an oral surgeon.
Wisdom teeth are usually blocked from entering the mouth because of lack of space in what is often referred to as an “impacted” tooth. There are varying degrees of impaction in which teeth are completely or partially covered by bone and gums. Greater than 90% of the population has or has had at least one impacted tooth, which can cause multiple problems if not removed.
Problems arising from impacted teeth include pain, infection, crowding of teeth, loss of bone and gums, damage to adjacent teeth or other structures, and can contribute to health problems. Cyst or tumors may arise from a developing third molar, requiring larger, more extensive surgery.
Third molar teeth do not need to be impacted to create problems. There is usually little or no function to wisdom teeth and due to their position in the mouth, can be difficult to keep clean. Without complete eruption of wisdom teeth and healthy gums surrounding them, pockets collecting debris and bacteria increase the chance for infection. Pain is a common complaint during eruption and can be severe. Complications are difficult to predict; the longer the wisdom teeth remain, the more likely they are to cause problems. The best prevention is removal of wisdom teeth during the teen years.
A short consultation involving an oral and radiographic exam should be done to evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and potential problems. Your surgeon will explain the procedure and the recovery from wisdom teeth extraction and answer any questions you may have.
The optimal time to remove wisdom teeth is usually in the mid-teenage years. During this time, root development is not complete, removal creates less discomfort, and healing and overall outcome is improved.
Removal of wisdom teeth is an outpatient procedure routinely done in our office under general anesthesia. To perform general sedation, an updated health history is required. Patients must not eat or drink for at least six hours prior to the procedure and will need an adult escort for transportation to and from the surgery site.
If a consultation is desired, please contact Oral Facial Surgery Institute.