Wisdom teeth typically do not erupt through the gums until a person reaches his or her late teens or early 20s. Technically called “third molars,” they may take years to break through the gums fully, possibly causing the same type of discomfort babies experience during teething. Some people never experience issues with their wisdom teeth, while others eventually need to have one, two, or all four removed. McKinney periodontist Dr. Daniel Choi regularly performs this common procedure.
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Your third molars came to be “wisdom” teeth due to remaining submerged until young adulthood, when people typically achieve advanced wisdom. You find them in the posterior arches in the rear of your mouth. There are four third molars, one at the very rear on each side of both the upper and lower jaw. Most people’s wisdom teeth develop in early adulthood. For some people, they develop during adolescence, while others may never develop them.
Do I Have Wisdom Teeth?
Using a flashlight and a mirror, look at the upper and lower arches. If you see a third molar then yes, you have wisdom teeth. In some people, they never emerge completely and are only visible via x-ray.
Do My Wisdom Teeth Need Extraction?
People may experience a variety of issues as wisdom teeth emerge. Sometimes, they come in sideways or refuse to emerge fully. For others, impacted wisdom teeth beneath gums and bone can cause a lot of pain. Even when wisdom teeth come in properly, they may cause a variety of dental issues later, which is why your dentist may recommend extraction while your third molars are still developing. Not only are they easier to remove during this stage, but early extraction also prevents future complications.
If your wisdom teeth emerge neatly, with ample room between your second and third molars, you are far less likely to experience future difficulties. This assumes proper care with good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing.
Common Wisdom Teeth Issues
People experiencing complications with their wisdom teeth typically have too little space in their mouths for their third molars, causing them to become impacted. When this happens, the teeth tend to break the surface at an angle, negatively affecting adjacent teeth. This creates difficulties maintaining proper oral hygiene for the molar and its neighboring tooth, making both vulnerable to decay and periodontal disease.
Common signs of impacted wisdom teeth include:
- Molar pain or pressure when eating
- Discomfort in the cheek or gum near the third molar
- Gum inflammation behind the last visible molar
- A foul taste or smell near the third molar
- The tooth rubbing against the cheek
- Stiffness in the jaw
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact Dr. Choi for an appointment right away. Dental issues are always easier to treat when treatment begins early. If impacted wisdom teeth are not treated, they cause a range of issues, such as misalignment of neighboring teeth and bacterial infections. This may lead to tumors and cysts that destroy not only the teeth but also the jawbone.
Removing your wisdom teeth early guards against these issues and is considered a smart preventative measure to protect overall oral health.
The Procedure to Remove Wisdom Teeth
Dr. Choi begins with an appointment during which he performs an oral exam and takes x-rays to ascertain third molar development and positioning. This consultation determines whether wisdom tooth removal is necessary. If Dr. Choi recommends extraction, he discusses potential risks with the procedure, including the potential for nerve or sinus problems. Then, Dr. Choi schedules a second appointment for the removal.
Typically, wisdom teeth extraction takes place under local anesthetic, although general anesthesia is available if necessary. After extracting the teeth, the doctor stitches the gums and applies sterile gauze to control bleeding. The patient receives a post-surgical kit, including homecare instructions and prescriptions for requisite medications. Finally, the patient makes a follow-up appointment for the following week. At this time, Dr. Choi removes the stitches and evaluates healing.
If you have questions regarding your wisdom teeth including the average cost of wisdom teeth removal, or any other dental issues, contact Dr. Choi’s McKinney, TX office today. Dr. Choi offers patients up-to-the-minute dental technologies including laser gum surgery, dental implants, bone and gum grafting, and sedation options.