Everything You Should Know About Wisdom Teeth

Your teeth are usually fully developed by the time you’re in your late teens or early 20s. Wisdom teeth are the last to develop. But unless you’re one of the lucky few that won’t need their wisdom teeth removed, your mouth doesn’t likely have enough room for these teeth. And this can cause problems.

Because most people’s mouths don’t have enough room for their wisdom teeth to erupt, they can shift all the other teeth in your mouth and misalign your bite as they come in. Wisdom teeth are also the most common culprits of cavities, decay, and other complications from shifting your other teeth around.

Most Americans now see a wisdom teeth removal dentist, usually an oral surgeon, to get their wisdom teeth removed before they come in fully. It’s typically a preventative procedure, which is why the majority of wisdom tooth extractions are done in your late teens, before or just as your wisdom teeth begin trying to erupt. You can have your wisdom teeth taken out later in adulthood, too, but the surgery to remove the wisdom teeth is a bit more invasive and it takes a little longer to heal.

People who see us about problems with their wisdom teeth usually have lots of questions. How much does it cost to remove wisdom teeth? Will it hurt? Why do they need to see a wisdom teeth removal surgeon? Will they need a bone graft? Will the roots be removed? How long does it take to remove wisdom teeth? How long does it take to recover from a wisdom tooth extraction?

Let’s take a look at wisdom teeth, wisdom tooth removal, and why oral surgeons recommend keeping track of the development and movement of your wisdom teeth in your teen years.

Why Do We Perform Wisdom Teeth Extractions?

Wisdom teeth will typically show themselves just a bit as they start to erupt, and that’s when we know it’s time to schedule a wisdom tooth removal. It’s healthy for them to come in, but in order to prevent them from shifting your other teeth around, we try to remove them as quickly as possible after you see them poking through the gums.

Wisdom teeth, even when they have room to come in, are so far back in your mouth that they’re difficult to properly care for. As such, it’s easy to get cavities, abscesses and other decay-related issues around your wisdom teeth if they’re left in. Because the removal surgery is so minor, potential advantages of having your wisdom teeth taken out trump potential complications of choosing not to.

When Should Wisdom Teeth be Taken Out?

Teeth grow from the crown to the root, so it is much easier to extract wisdom teeth when only the part you can see has developed—usually between ages 16 and 21. However, we can extract wisdom teeth for patients of any age.

Summer break during high school is a good time to have the surgery; it’s more of a low-stress, less-busy time, and you don’t have to worry about your teen missing school for the wisdom tooth extraction and recovery period.

What Does it Mean When a Wisdom Tooth is Impacted?

When a wisdom tooth does not fully erupt, or isn’t completely visible in the mouth, it is considered to be impacted. There are a number of impacted positions for these teeth, and the level of impaction will be diagnosed and discussed during the consultation with your wisdom tooth removal dentist.

In an adult mouth, impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems like infection, cavities, bone loss, damage to adjacent teeth, and potential cyst formation. All of these issues pose risks to the health of your teeth as well as your jaw bone.

What’s a Wisdom Teeth Bone Graft?

In more complicated cases, such as when a wisdom tooth’s roots are “stuck” in the jaw, boney material may need to be replenished. In this case, we do a dental bone graft along with the wisdom tooth extraction procedure to help your jaw heal better and faster.

Does Everybody Need Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

If adequate space is present for the wisdom teeth to develop into useful, hygienic, and healthy positions, then removal is not necessary. But even in cases where the mouth does have room to accommodate the wisdom teeth, these molars still have potential to disrupt your bite. And in most cases, wisdom teeth have only a portion of the tooth erupted through the gums. When only part of the wisdom tooth is exposed in the mouth, effective hygiene is impossible, increasing the risk of complications.

Many problems associated with wisdom teeth occur as an adult, and the recovery may be prolonged. Early evaluation and removal of wisdom teeth have benefits from both an anatomic and healing perspective. Once problems occur, the resulting detrimental effects are typically irreversible, so prevention is important.

Why Do Most People Today Need to Have their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

This is an interesting one! Did you know 60% of the world’s population still never needs to see a wisdom tooth removal dentist? Wayward wisdom teeth are a consequence of mass-produced, soft foods. Over the course of generations, people in mostly-Western, industrialized societies bottom jaws grew less and less, simply because they never had to work very hard at chewing food. This is why we view overbites as normal in the US, and also the reason many of us don’t have enough room for our wisdom teeth.

Other wonky things happen with wisdom teeth. Some people have two sets – meaning they need two different wisdom tooth removal surgeries. Others have enough room in their mouths for their wisdom teeth to come in straight, and still others have one or more wisdom tooth missing (they are born without them)! These lucky people don’t need to worry about getting their wisdom teeth out.

What Can I Expect at the Consultation for My Wisdom Teeth Extraction?

At your consultation, Dr. Puckett will perform an oral examination and review your x-ray. During the consultation, you will interact directly with Dr. Puckett and the staff, rather than viewing a 15-minute generic video, which many offices utilize.

Dr. Puckett firmly believes that you deserve personal attention and the opportunity to have all of your questions and concerns answered in person. Additionally, the procedure to extract the wisdom teeth will be discussed, as well as what to expect during the post-operative course. We have been extracting wisdom teeth for nearly 20 years, and consistently have excellent results.

What’s the Wisdom Teeth Surgery Like?

We perform the surgery here in our office. You will have the choice of using local, sedation or general anesthesia, as patients have different needs and preferences. Safety and comfort are a priority during your extraction surgery. The entire process routinely takes less than an hour. You need to bring someone along to drive you home, as you will be groggy afterwards.

How Much Does it Cost to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Taken Out?

We advise patients to expect anywhere from $75-$200 per tooth for simple extractions, and up to $600 per tooth for impacted wisdom teeth. Because wisdom tooth removal surgery is a preventative measure, dental insurance covers a good portion of it, making it a pretty affordable oral surgery.

What is Recovery from a Wisdom Tooth Removal Like?

Recovery from a wisdom teeth removal surgery usually takes from four days to a week. Complications are rare if you follow our recovery instructions. The most common complication, dry sockets, can usually be prevented.

Don’t use a straw, don’t smoke or spit, and keep your head elevated. Your body creates a blood clot at the sites of the wisdom teeth extractions to protect the area while it heals. Suction, exertion, crunchy foods and tobacco can all disrupt the blood clot, leaving you susceptible to dry socket and infection.

If you rest, take your pain medications as directed, stick to soft foods for a few days, and call our office immediately if you experience any unexpected problems, you should not need a follow-up appointment.

Have more questions about wisdom tooth removals or need a consultation for a wisdom teeth removal? Call our office or use our online form to schedule a meeting with our oral surgeon, Dr. Puckett.

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