The average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth in the upper jaw and 16 teeth in the lower jaw. Each tooth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth function to grasp and bite food into smaller pieces whereas teeth in the back of the mouth function to grind food into a consistency suitable for swallowing.
The average size of the jaw is typically smaller than the size of all 32 teeth. Patients can experience pain when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28. These four extra teeth are your third molars, also known as ‘wisdom teeth’.
Wisdom Tooth Removal
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to grow into the mouth. Wisdom teeth do not have to be removed when they align properly and the gum tissue is healthy. Unfortunately, this does not happen in most individuals. Extraction is necessary when the third molars are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gums, and even remain trapped underneath 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 successfully erupt into the mouth.
Poorly-positioned impacted teeth can cause several problems. Partially erupted teeth allow bacteria to proliferate under the gum and cause an infection, which may result in swelling, mouth stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. Moreover, tumors or cysts can form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jaw and other teeth.
Wisdom tooth removal typically prevents or resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.
At your consultation appointment Dr. Davis will perform a thorough oral examination and take x-rays. Using this information, Dr. Davis will evaluate both the position of the wisdom teeth and their potential for causing problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and wisdom tooth removal results in superior outcomes for the patient. Patients are first evaluated in the teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Wisdom tooth removal is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Davis is well-trained and licensed to provide various types of anesthesia ranging from local anesthesia to intravenous sedation to general anesthesia. Dr. Davis will discuss these options, as well as all surgical risks, with you at your consultation appointment.