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Third Molar Extractions

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, do not always erupt properly when they decide to make an appearance. It's wise to get an early opinion from your dentist on getting wisdom teeth pulled before they become impacted, causing pain, swelling, infection, caries and gum disease.

Why don't wisdom teeth grow in right?

The shape of the modern human mouth is often too small to accommodate wisdom teeth which make their first appearance in young adults 17 to 26. Over the course of time, humans have developed smaller jaws. When humans learned to harness fire for cooking foods and developed blade tools to better process food before consumption, they reduced the need for strong jaws to chew food. According to studies of ancient skull specimens, over time, a full set of teeth in a smaller jaw caused crowding in permanent teeth because of lack of space.

What does impacted mean?
When wisdom teeth don't have room to grow or they haven't reached their final position by age 25, they are considered impacted - no place to go and no plans to grow. Third molar impaction is the most prevalent medical developmental disorder. A full set of healthy teeth sometimes doesn't leave much room for wisdom teeth to grow.

What kind of problems can impacted third molars cause?

Partially erupted wisdom teeth are breeding grounds for organisms that may cause infection, and cysts and tumors may grow on a trapped wisdom tooth. Jaw pain and gum disease may occur. Not all wisdom teeth cause problems, however.

 

Can't I just use an antibiotic?
Antibiotics only soothe infected wisdom teeth for a short time. Since people frequently use a wide variety of antibiotics, the infection may be resistant to such medication and doesn't solve the real problem: The tooth can't fit in your mouth.

When is removal necessary?

It isn't wise to wait until wisdom teeth bother you. Early removal, as advised by your dentist, is generally recommended to avoid problems, such as an impacted tooth that destroys the second molar. People younger than 16 heal easier too. At an early age, people should be evaluated by their dentist who can track third molar development with the help of X-rays. Second molars should be visible to lessen the chance of damaging them during surgery. This occurs at age I I or 12, so wisdom teeth should be removed when the decision has been made that they cannot erupt into an acceptable position.

What if I don't have any symptoms?
People with symptoms of impaction, such as pain, swelling and infection should have their wisdom teeth removed immediately. However, those with no symptoms can avoid the chance of ever suffering from impacted wisdom teeth or achieve better orthodontic treatment results by having them removed. Asymptornatic impacted wisdom teeth also should be removed to reduce unexplained pain, accommodate prostehetic appliances, or avoid cavities,
periodontal disease, bone shrinkage and tumor development.

How is the tooth removed?

Surgery for impacted wisdom teeth consists of removing gum tissue over the tooth, gently stripping connective tissue away from the tooth and bone, removing the tooth and sewing the gum back up.

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Send comments to:Dr. Jay Last Update February 16, 2006