Impacted Teeth and Wisdom Teeth
Impacted teeth are teeth that remain embedded in the jaws past their normal eruption time or which have been blocked from their normal eruption path because of crowding of adjacent teeth or lack of enough jaw size to accommodate their eruption. The most common type of impacted tooth is the wisdom tooth or third molar.
Impacted teeth can cause a number of problems if left in place. A non treated impacted tooth may require extensive surgery, hospitalization, loss of additional teeth, or other tissues, and lost time from work if allowed to occur. Some of the complications that can occur by leaving impacted teeth include:
- Infection and swelling of the gums, mouth, and face, stiffness of the jaws, and pain which may cause serious illness including swelling around the patient’s airway which can be life threatening.
- Damage to adjacent tooth roots.
- Formation of large cysts which may destroy areas of the jawbones.
- Referred pain to the jaws, ear aches, and headaches.
- If partially erupted, the surrounding gums may become food traps causing periodontal (gum) disease and dental caries in an adjacent tooth.
Treatment of impacted teeth includes early diagnosis and surgical removal before any of the potential complications occur. Wisdom teeth normally erupt in the mouth between the ages of 17 and 23. If they have not, they are probably impacted, although some people never develop one or more wisdom teeth. This should be determined by examination and Panoramic X-ray. Aside from prevention of the above listed complications, wisdom teeth may also need to be removed prior to orthodontic treatment or orthognathic surgery (correction of jaw deformities). During a consultation with the oral surgeon, all of the risks and benefits of the surgery will be reviewed. The type of anesthesia, intravenous sedation or local anesthesia, to be used will be also discussed and any questions you may have will be answered.
Most impacted teeth can be removed in the office. However, if extensive surgery is required or the patient has significant medical problems, the operation may have to be performed in the hospital.
There is more discomfort usually associated with impacted tooth removal than routine dental extractions. Patients may experience 2-3 days of discomfort, swelling, and difficulty opening the mouth after wisdom teeth removal. There may also be bruising or discoloration of the skin over the jaw. These symptoms vary depending on the extent of the surgery and each individual patient’s response to a surgical procedure. Patients may be advised to limit their work or physical activity during this time. In general, younger patients have an easier and shorter recovery period. Patients are appointed to return for a post operative check-up in 7-10 days. If non-absorbable sutures were placed, they are removed at that time. Further check-ups are scheduled, if indicated.
For maximum patient comfort, Dental Associates provides various levels of sedation for oral surgery procedures, including nitrous oxide and IV sedation. Patients are continuously monitored during and after surgery. Most importantly, because we have an oral surgeon in all four office locations, patients are guaranteed the most convenient, stress-free experience possible.