If Wisdom teeth are so smart, why are wisdom tooth extractions recommended for most patients? “Wisdom teeth” or third molars are the last four teeth to develop and erupt into the jaws and usually appear between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five. This coincides with the passage into adulthood sometimes referred to as “the age of wisdom.”
Wisdom teeth used to serve a useful purpose. However, changes in diet as well as the elimination of significant loss of permanent teeth leaves most of us with too many teeth and not enough jaw. Once developed, wisdom teeth simply have no place to go. This causes them to become “impacted.”
Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that have failed to emerge fully into their expected position, usually due to a lack of room in the jaw. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems because they cannot be cleaned properly and collect food debris, bacteria, and plaque around them. This can result in tooth decay, gum disease, and infections. Impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to the more serious problem of cyst formation. Wisdom tooth extractions are performed to prevent the problems that can result from impacted wisdom teeth.
A wisdom tooth extraction involves opening the gum tissue over the tooth and taking out any bone that is covering the tooth. Once the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone has been separated, the tooth is removed. After the tooth has been removed, stitches may be required.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons perform wisdom tooth extractions in dental offices, surgery centers, or hospital operating rooms. Local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia is used to relax patients and eliminate pain.
Pain medications may be prescribed by Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons to use in the days immediately following a wisdom tooth extraction procedure. Most patients recover from wisdom tooth extractions within a few days.