Approximately 5 million people in the US have had their wisdom teeth pulled, combining in a cost of $3 billion every year.

Chances are, you have received this popular procedure. If so, the dentist more than likely removed your wisdom teeth because they were obstructing the health of the rest of your teeth. Our wisdom teeth are the last of our adult teeth to form, and they are commonly removed during our teens and young adulthood. Some patients wisdom teeth develop without any complications or difficulties. For others, painful symptoms and dental problems come with the development of these teeth.

A wisdom tooth will be partially or fully impacted. A partially impacted wisdom tooth means that only a small amount of the crown is noticeable, and a fully impacted wisdom tooth means that it has struggled to erupt through the patient’s gums. Wisdom teeth don’t always grow in straight, either. They have been known to grow in at angles, backward, and even upside down.

Complications Caused By Wisdom Teeth

Third molars, similarly known as impacted wisdom teeth, erupt at the back of the mouth and fail to develop routinely because there is no room for them to develop. There are some cases where the third molars do not cause any distress or trouble; however, since these teeth are more challenging to clean, they tend to be more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay compared to other parts of the mouth. Oral surgeons will always pull impacted wisdom teeth that are leading to difficulties for the patient, and they will also recommend removing the wisdom teeth that aren’t currently causing pain under the precaution that there will be issues in the future.

So what types of soreness is linked with impacted wisdom teeth? Here’s a list of some conditions you might suffer from:

▪ Painful gums that bleed or swell
▪ Swelling and pain at the jaw
▪ Trouble opening up the mouth
▪ Bad breath

When wisdom teeth grow in, they can cause even more damage to the neighboring teeth. Orthodontic treatment might be called for if the incoming wisdom teeth move the other molars forward, creating overcrowding. There is a possibility of developing a tumor in the mouth as well -—though it is infrequent– and this happens because the wisdom tooth can develop in a fluid-filled sac inside the jawbone which creates a cyst. If this takes place, the oral surgeon might just have to take out the neighboring bone and tissue. Wisdom teeth are difficult to maintain because they reside in the back of the mouth. Along with tooth decay, patients are possibly at risk of an inflammatory gum issue referred to as pericoronitis for these same factors.

A Standard Treatment

Most of the time, the oral surgeon will extract all four wisdom teeth at the same time, but they might opt to do a few teeth at a time depending on their or the patient’s level of comfort. The patient will undergo general anesthesia to minimize the amount of discomfort they might feel during the procedure. Depending on the number of teeth that are being removed, this process can last anywhere from one to several hours. The most common side effects of wisdom teeth removal are swelling and bleeding at the surgery site. These can be managed at home with gauze and ice packs, but if these side effects persist, it is recommended to call the performing surgeon.

Controversy

A few people argue that removing wisdom teeth is unwarranted and is a way for dentists to bill large amounts of money to their patients. Jay W. Friedman, DDS, MPH, has published an article commenting on this position and the misconceptions that are grouped with the eruption of wisdom teeth in growing patients. However, the decision to go forward with wisdom teeth removal is effectively up to the patient. Nevertheless, we recommend all patients make an informed examination of their pain and discomfort and to talk to Dr. Gradeless for support when it pertains to diagnosing the intensity of impaction.

Dr. Gradeless is located in Fishers, IN, and his patients can schedule an appointment online or by phone at (317)841-3130.