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    Wisdom Teeth

    The average adult has 32 teeth by age 18: 16 on the top and 16 on the bottom. However, the average mouth comfortably holds only 28 teeth. The four additional teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”

    In general, patients first have their wisdom teeth evaluated in their mid-teenage years by a dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. During an oral examination and using X-rays, the position of the wisdom teeth can be assessed for any current or potential problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient.

    Why should my wisdom teeth be removed?

    Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt. When they align properly, and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. More often, however, wisdom teeth are unable to erupt properly and must be extracted. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, or even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully. These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems.

    What types of problems can wisdom teeth cause?

    When wisdom teeth are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around an impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jaw bone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

    What can I expect from surgery?

    All in-office surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Our surgeons have the training, licensing and experience to provide various types of anesthesia and can recommend the most suitable options for patients. These services are provided in an environment of optimal safety, utilizing modern monitoring equipment and staff experienced in anesthesia techniques. Recovery time varies based on the position of your wisdom teeth, the number of teeth being removed, among other factors. Your surgeon can give you a more specific estimate for recovery based on your particular case.

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