Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to develop in your mouth. While the average adult has 32 teeth, the average mouth is only large enough for 28 teeth to erupt. This, unfortunately, can result in the wisdom teeth becoming impacted when there is not enough room for them to erupt.

Why should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

Impacted wisdom teeth can pose several problems related to your oral and overall health. They can crowd or damage adjacent teeth which can become painful. Infection of the tissues surrounding impacted wisdom teeth is a common occurrence as well. Occasionally, impacted wisdom teeth can cause more serious problems such as the formation of cysts that can hollow out large segments of the jaw and can cause permanent damage to adjacent teeth, the surrounding bone, and vascular and neural structures. Tumor formation, although rare, can also occur around impacted wisdom teeth. Removal of cysts and tumors requires more invasive and complicated surgical procedures.

wisdom-teethEven if the wisdom teeth erupt and align properly, they can cause significant problems related to your oral health. Recent oral health studies have shown that the presence of wisdom teeth is a predictor of periodontal disease, which can have serious implications on your overall health. Not all problems related to wisdom teeth are painful or visible, including tooth damage and disease. Removing your wisdom teeth at an early age can help prevent these potentially serious problems, while also minimizing the associated risks.

When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

In general, earlier removal of wisdom teeth results in a less complicated healing process. It is highly recommended that wisdom teeth be removed prior to adulthood to prevent potential health issues and healing complications. As wisdom teeth grow, their roots become longer, the teeth become more difficult to remove and complications become more likely. In addition, impacted wisdom teeth are more likely to cause problems as people age.

No one can predict when third molar complications will occur, but when they do, the circumstances can be much more painful and the teeth more difficult to treat. You should not wait until your wisdom teeth “bother you”, as significant damage and complications may already have occurred.

Wisdom tooth removal

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Lamb can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems. Most people are generally first evaluated in the mid- teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Lamb has the training, license and experience to provide various types of anesthesia for patients to select the best option for each individual. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety which utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff that are experienced in anesthesia techniques and emergency protocols.

For more information regarding the impact of third molars in oral and overall health, Dr. Lamb recommends reading the AAOMS Third Molar White Paper.