How many wisdom teeth do you have?
Most people have 32 total teeth – 28 teeth and 4 wisdom teeth. Occasionally some people may have more or even fewer than 4 wisdom teeth. We have seen patients with no wisdom teeth and up to eight wisdom teeth.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
An impacted wisdom tooth is one that does not fully erupt to the level of the other back teeth in the arch. Typically, they may be soft tissue (covered by gums), partial bony (partially covered by bone) or full bony (completely covered by bone) impactions.
Do all wisdom teeth need to be removed?
No. Your dentist is the best person to discuss whether or not removal would be in your best interest.
What are the reasons to remove, or not remove, wisdom teeth?
First, let’s look at the reasons why you may not want your wisdom teeth removed. Although a relatively uncommon situation, it is possible that a wisdom tooth or the wisdom teeth have fully erupted to the level of the other teeth and are able to be predictably and thoroughly cleaned with a toothbrush and dental floss. In this case, retention may be preferred. Also, if a wisdom tooth is so deeply impacted that its removal would possibly result in extensive destruction to adjacent bone, teeth, or nerves, then it may be deemed in the patient’s best interest to allow the tooth to remain.
There are many reasons for removing wisdom teeth. These reasons include:
• Pain associated with the tooth
• Dental decay on the wisdom tooth or decay on an adjacent tooth or root that necessitates the wisdom tooth removal in order to access the decay
• Periodontal Disease or bone loss around the wisdom tooth or around the adjacent molar resulting from the wisdom tooth
• Cysts forming around the impacted tooth
• Oral Cancer potential around the impacted tooth
• Malocclusion (unsatisfactory bite)
• Weakened jawbone, with a risk of jaw fracture, due to the impacted tooth
• Tissue-impacted wisdom teeth may become painful and result in Pericoronitis, which is infected inflamed tissue over or surrounding the impacted tooth.
• Shifting or crowding of the teeth anterior (forward) to the wisdom tooth
Should you be sedated during wisdom tooth surgery?
Yes! When performed by a competent, experienced doctor, sedation allows the procedure to be done more safely and proficiently than without sedation. Additionally, a sedated patient will have vague, or most likely, no recollection of the procedure. Sedation and constant monitoring of the patient’s vital signs allows the doctor to provide the safest and least traumatic treatment possible. This results in reduced post-operative discomfort and improves recovery time.
Are there risks of having wisdom teeth removed?
Yes. All medical or dental procedures carry certain risks. Although infrequent, some risks include:
• Bruising, soreness or post-operative swelling
• Tight jaw muscles with limited opening following surgery (trismus)
• Temporary sensory lip numbness – on very rare occasions the numbness may be long-lasting or could persist indefinitely
• When serious health concerns exist there is sometimes a greater risk of leaving a dangerously impacted tooth than the calculated risk of a fractured jaw or retained root fragment as result of the surgery
What else should I know about the procedure?
If you’ve not been sedated for a dental procedure then this may be the best dental experience you have ever had!
During the procedure you will be relaxed and comfortable. Your blood pressure and other vital signs will be monitored and kept at a safe healthy level. Sedation may cause nausea but this is easily controlled through the IV Sedation procedure. Following the surgery you will have vague, if any, recollection of the procedure. Post-operatively, expect a small amount of discomfort and swelling. These will be nicely managed with prescribed medications. You will be groggy for a good part of the day, so you will not return to work or operate any machinery, including a car, for the remainder of that day. Your diet will consist of cool, soft nutritious foods and liquids, and you will need someone to escort you home and stay with you until the sedation has adequately cleared your body.
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