By the age of eighteen, the average adult has 32 teeth: 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth or molar teeth are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.
The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your Third Molars, also known as wisdom teeth.
Why Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. Wisdom teeth may grow sideways, or partially emerge from the gum, or even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. When they are unable to properly erupt, it becomes necessary to extract them. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that allows them to successfully erupt.
Poorly positioned impacted wisdom teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow. This will eventually cause an infection, which can result in swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem, however, occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, which results in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.
Dr. Greco can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth via an oral examination and mouth x-rays, and from there, predict if there may be present or future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients 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. Greco has the training, license and experience to provide various types of anesthesia for patients so the best alternative can be selected.
In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under local anesthesia, laughing gas (nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia) or general anesthesia. These options as well as the surgical risks (i.e. sensory nerve damage, sinus complications) will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gum is sutured. To help control bleeding, patients are asked to bite down on gauze placed in your mouth. You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your post-operative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, antibiotics and a follow-up appointment in one week for suture removal. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our Waimea or Hilo office.