What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, sometimes referred to as “third molars,” are the last teeth to erupt on each side of the jaws. They usually erupt between the ages of 16 and 25. Since they are the last permanent teeth to erupt, there is often not enough room in the mouth to properly accommodate them. This can lead to esthetic and oral health complications, especially if the teeth become impacted.

How Necessary is it to Remove Wisdom Teeth?

Some patients may not even develop wisdom teeth, but for those that do, removal is pretty common. Dr. Richard Whipple may recommend wisdom teeth removal as a preemptive measure. This can help you avoid future complications, like a more difficult surgery. Most people have wisdom teeth removed for the following reasons:

  • They are impacted. Because of their position in your mouth, they typically do not come in normally. This can cause them to become trapped in your jawbone or gums, which can lead to swelling, tenderness, and pain.
  • They erupt at an improper angle. After they erupt, your wisdom teeth may press against your other teeth, causing tooth crowding and bite misalignments. They may also damage the adjacent teeth, your second molars.
  • Your jaw is not large enough. Simply put, your jaw bone may not be large enough for the third set of molars.
  • You have difficulties maintaining proper oral hygiene. Wisdom teeth are hard to clean with your toothbrush and dental floss. You may develop cavities or gum disease as a result.

Removal Process

During a consultation appointment, Dr. Richard Whipple will determine if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed. We will talk about the process and discuss any existing health problems and medications you take on a regular basis.

Tooth extraction is a relatively routine procedure; however, the removal of wisdom teeth requires minor surgery. Before the surgery, we will use a local anesthetic to numb the area. We also recommend some form of sedation, usually a nitrous oxide or IV sedation.

During the surgery, Dr. Richard Whipple will cut your gums (and sometimes bone), to get the teeth out. In some cases, the tooth has to be broken into several pieces to be removed. Once the teeth are out, we will suture the incision to foster a quick healing process. The entire procedure usually takes about 45 minutes or less.

The stitches will typically dissolve after a few days. We will stuff gauze pads on the surgical sites to reduce bleeding. Most people have little or no pain after surgery. Swelling and mild discomfort are common for about three days or so. We recommend over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen, to curb discomfort. In some cases, we may prescribe pain medication.

It may take a few weeks for your mouth to completely heal. During this time, we recommend you use an ice pack on your face to reduce swelling. A heating pad can also be used for a sore jaw. Also, be sure to eat soft foods like pasta, rice, or soup to avoid disrupting the surgical site. If you develop a fever or experience severe pain, please contact us immediately.

Schedule a Consultation

If you would like to learn more, call (503) 620-6133, and schedule a consultation appointment today!