Wisdom tooth extraction is a commonly recommended preventative procedure. This is most frequently recommended when the wisdom teeth (or 3rd molars) have become impacted and cannot properly erupt. Impaction is very common and typically occurs because a teenager does not have enough jaw space to allow for eruption. Impacted wisdom teeth are difficult to clean and can impede properly cleaning the adjacent 2nd molars. Here are possible consequences of maintaining an impacted wisdom tooth:
- Formation of decay/cavity on the wisdom tooth (COMMON)
- Formation of decay/cavity on the back wall of the neighboring 2nd molar (COMMON)
- Soft tissue infection and swelling (LESS COMMON)
- Crowding and misalignment of lower teeth due to excessive eruption pressure (RARE)
- Formation of cysts and other abnormalities around the crown of a developing wisdom tooth (RARE)
When are wisdom teeth typically assessed?
If wisdom teeth are likely to become impacted then extraction is the recommended course of action. As a wisdom tooth develops, its roots elongate and begin to encroach on the major nerve that runs through the lower jaw. Additionally, root elongation makes extraction more difficult with higher likelihood of post-operative complications. For these reasons, the ideal period for wisdom tooth extraction is between 12 -16 years of age. At our office, we typically recommend a panoramic x-ray to visualize developing wisdom teeth around 10-12 years of age.
How Impacted Wisdom Teeth are Removed
In most cases, early removal of impacted wisdom teeth simplifies the procedure. Patients may or may not opt for dental sedation. The sedation can be mild (“laughing gas”) or more profound (like General Anesthetic). Local anesthetic is used to completely numb the are around the wisdom teeth. Each tooth is exposed by making a small opening in the overlying gum tissue. The wisdom tooth is then removed and the gums are stitched closed. A typical appointment for extraction of wisdom teeth is about an hour.
If you have questions about your wisdom teeth or wisdom tooth development in your teenager, please give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request a consult here. Dr. Kyle Hornby provides impacted wisdom tooth extraction and offers dental sedation as well to keep you comfortable.