What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, officially known as third molars, are usually the last teeth to develop. They are located in the very back of your mouth, next to your second (or twelve year) molars. They usually complete development between the ages of 15 and 20, a time traditionally associated with the onset of maturity and the attainment of wisdom.
What Is An Impacted Tooth?
Although most people develop and grow 32 permanent, adult teeth (16 in the upper and 16 in the lower jaw), many do not have enough room in their mouth for all of these teeth to completely erupt into the mouth to become fully functional and cleansable teeth. When this occurs they are said to be impacted, indicating their inability to erupt into an alignment which will allow them to be able to function in the chewing process.
There are several types of impactions: soft tissue, partial bony and complete bony. This classification is based on the relationship of the wisdom tooth to the surrounding bone and gum tissue.
What is The Best Age To Have Them Removed?
In some patients it is as early as 13 or 14, whereas in others it may not be until 17 or 18 years of age. In general younger patients heal faster and more predictably and have fewer complications than older patients. It is generally recommended that you be seen for a consultation before it is determined if you will benefit from wisdom tooth removal. A special x-ray of your mouth and jaws is sometimes needed to help determine how much room you have, if any, for your wisdom teeth to erupt.
Why Should I Have Impacted Teeth Removed?
If you do not have enough room in your mouth for your third molars to erupt and they become impacted, a number of problems can arise. These problems can include infection, damage to the adjacent teeth, acceleration of gum disease, and damage to the jawbone by cyst formation. These problems tend to occur with increasing frequency as patients get older.
What If I Don’t Have Them Removed in My Teenage Years?
Many people, especially in years past, were told to take a “wait and see” approach to having their wisdom teeth removed. The problem with this approach is that if it is necessary to remove wisdom teeth in your thirties, forties, fifties, or beyond, it can be more difficult for you as the patient. The post-operative course is usually prolonged and there is a higher complication rate. Treating these complications can be more difficult than with a younger patient. If you do not have your impacted wisdom teeth removed in your teenage years or early in your twenties and they are completely impacted in bone, we sometimes advise waiting until or unless a localized problem (such as cyst formation or localized gum disease and bone loss) develops and then treat the affected area only.
What Happens On The Day They’re Removed?
Because most people prefer to be unaware of the experience when they have their wisdom teeth removed, you will probably decide to be sedated (“go to sleep”). If you are uncertain about which anesthesia you want we will discuss appropriate anesthesia options at your consultation visit. On the day of your procedure, you will take medications to help minimize post-operative pain and swelling. We ask that a parent or responsible adult accompanies you to the office and plans to stay with you the rest of the day. Your procedure will take approximately one hour and you will probably be in the office for 1 -2 hours. Recent advances in medicine and technology allow patients to undergo wisdom tooth removal in a manner, which promotes rapid healing and minimal post-operative discomfort. State of the art sterilization and infection control techniques are used at all times.
After the procedure, you will want to take it easy for a few days. We ask that you follow your post-operative instructions closely as they will make you most comfortable during the first few days following your procedure.
What Does It Cost-And Does Insurance Cover It?
Because of the different types of impacted wisdom teeth, it is impossible to give you a realistic estimate of what our services will cost until we have reviewed your x-rays and determined the best anesthetic option for you. Every insurance company has a different policy regarding the extent of coverage for a given surgical procedure.