The Answers to Your Wisdom Teeth Questions

Jamie J. Alexander on November 29, 2018

The Answers to Your Wisdom Teeth Questions

What are wisdom teeth? These are the third and last set of molars to erupt at the back of the mouth. Technically, they are your “third molars,” but they are commonly referred to as your “wisdom teeth.” They erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. They are not required for functional chewing and speaking.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

When there is inadequate space in the jaw, third molars commonly become lodged against the roots of second molars and are caught under the bone. Sometimes cusps partially emerge from the one and gum tissue but not the entire tooth. When they do not fully erupt, they are called “impacted.”

Do my wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Dr. Jamie Alexander will examine your x-rays and do a comprehensive oral exam to determine if there is need for removal. He may recommend removal if your jaws are too small to hold third molars without putting unhealthy pressure on second molars and crowding other teeth. This crowding forces teeth into misalignment where improper tooth contact puts stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and TMJ associated muscles. Painful Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD) commonly occur until the wisdom teeth are removed and a course of orthodontics is used to realign the teeth into proper position. Because it is difficult to thoroughly brush and floss back teeth when there is crowding, caries and gum disease more easily develop. Serious infections can occur that jeopardize, not only the comfort and health of your mouth, but also your entire body. Patients often experience sore, aching gums when impacted third molars attempt to erupt properly but can’t. There may even be traumatic injury to the surrounding bone tissue and adjacent second molars.

What age is best for wisdom teeth removal?

Between the ages of 17 and 25, most people’s third molars begin to erupt through the gums. The removal of wisdom teeth is easier before the age of 25. This is because the teeth have not become permanently established in the jaw bone. Many teens have orthodontic treatment before age 17. Your orthodontist will recommend the ideal time for their removal, based on x-ray imaging of third molar development and position. Removal can be performed before or while wearing braces. Your teen will be referred to a skilled oral surgeon, who can minimize trauma to the periodontal tissues and offer IV moderate sedation.

Can I have my wisdom teeth removed as an adult?

Yes, you can. It’s very common for adults to have this procedure. A Board Certified Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon has the experience, technology, and IV sedation to make your experience as comfortable and fast as possible, with least trauma to the periodontal tissues for faster healing.
Will I be referred to an oral surgeon? Yes. Dr. Jamie Alexander will refer you to a Boynton Beach area Board Certified Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon for this procedure. This oral surgeon will offer IV moderate sedation and has the highest-level skills and latest technology.

Can I be sedated?

Yes. Most patients want to be sedated during oral surgery. This is one of the reasons Dr. Jamie Alexander refers his patients to a Board Certified Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon for wisdom teeth removal. In the surgeon’s office, patients can receive IV sedation that is safely administered and controlled throughout their procedure.

How many appointments are involved?

Dr. Jamie Alexander will communicate with the referred oral surgeon, and you will make an initial consultation appointment with the surgeon. At that consultation, your health history will be reviewed, one or more digital x-rays will be recorded, and your oral health will be evaluated by the surgeon. At this appointment, you will be fully informed about what to expect, and if the surgeon has any concerns about your special circumstances, these will be discussed with you. If you are moving forward with surgery, it will be scheduled for a subsequent day. After surgery, you will have a recall appointment with the surgeon in about two weeks to evaluate the healing, and the surgeon will communicate back with Dr. Alexander. If you have concerns about your mouth before that recall appointment, you will call the surgeon’s office to discuss your concerns.

What is recovery like?

After surgery, you will be monitored by the surgical team until you become alert, bleeding is under control, your vital signs are excellent, and you have received and understand your homecare instructions. After sedation, it is necessary to have someone else drive you home. During the day of and day after your procedure, you will need to get plenty of rest and eat only soft foods. You will need to avoid sucking through a straw or putting undue pressure on your gum tissue. If you are a smoker, do not smoke for 24 hours. Swelling of the affected gum tissue should reduce within a few days. Three to five days after your procedure, you should be able to return to normal activity. Most patients heal completely within two weeks. Ibuprofen or a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen are usually all that is needed to manage discomfort during the first few days while there is swelling. Swelling and pain management instructions will be provided by the surgeon.

Are there ever complications from removal?

As with any surgery, there is the possibility of a complication. A blood clot forms after tooth extraction, which leads to healing and new bone formation. If the clot doesn’t form or is lost too early, the vacated root socket is dry and painful. This is what is called a “dry socket. The surgeon you are referred to will minimize this possibility and monitor you for clot formation before you leave the office. However, you need to carefully follow post-operative instructions to enable the clot to stay in place. The possibility of complications is a primary reason why Dr. Jamie Alexander refers his patients to Board Certified Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons for wisdom teeth removal. These surgeons are best trained and equipped to minimize the possibility of complications and to manage them. If you experience prolonged bleeding or acute pain after you go home, you should call the surgeon’s office.

Is it best to have all four wisdom teeth removed at one appointment?

This is a conversation you will have with the oral surgeon. Removal of all four at one appointment is common and often preferred by surgeons and patients. Removal of all four in a single appointment, means you minimize the number of times you have sedation and go through recovery. Removal of all wisdom teeth at one appointment is the most time efficient and cost effective.