While the world now has modern oral hygiene standards that preserve tooth and gum function, this wasn’t always the case. Before the age of toothbrushes and dental floss, wisdom teeth were a vital part of helping humans maintain a normal diet. These molars often emerge in the back of the mouth in early adulthood and were once intended to take the place of other missing teeth lost to decay. Now that humans keep most of their teeth throughout their lives, these teeth are irrelevant and cause more harm than good.
To prevent problems from these new molars emerging, the surgeons of Oklahoma Dental Implants and Oral Surgery offer wisdom teeth removal for their patients. By removing wisdom teeth, it can prevent pain, shifting of other teeth, and more.
What Problems Can Result When Wisdom Teeth Remain in the Mouth?
Wisdom teeth don’t always cause problems when they begin to erupt. If they are aligned properly and the surrounding gum tissue is healthy, they can stay in the mouth. However, most people find that their wisdom teeth are not aligned properly. Because the mouth is full of other teeth, there is no room for the wisdom teeth to fit, so they’ll push other teeth out of the way to make space.
Because of this, some wisdom teeth only emerge partially or are unable to erupt at all and may grow sideways instead. When these teeth are trapped inside the gums and bone, this is known as impaction, and it’s a common problem in adults.
Whether patients are suffering from crowding or impaction, wisdom teeth can cause the following symptoms if not promptly removed:
- Infection, which commonly happens in partially erupted teeth. Bacteria and food particles can make their way through the opening in the gums to the tooth underneath where it is impossible to clean, leading to serious decay, swelling, pain, and more.
- Crooked or misaligned teeth, which can happen when wisdom teeth force themselves into position by pushing other teeth out of the way.
- Tumors or cysts, which can form around impacted wisdom teeth and destroy surrounding jawbone and healthy teeth.
What Are the Different Types of Impaction?
There’s not just one kind of impaction affecting patients who still have their wisdom teeth. Each type of impaction has varying levels of severity, and either our surgeons will diagnose the type of impaction at the initial consultation. The four most common types of impaction are distoangular, mesioangular, horizontal, and vertical.
Not many patients have distoangular impaction. This occurs when the wisdom tooth slants at an angle towards the back of the mouth. If the angle is not very severe, surgery may not be required. Our surgeons often suggest monitoring the tooth for a few years to see how it’s progressing before jumping into immediate removal. However, once the tooth hits a 90-degree angle or more, surgery is definitely the preferred option.
The most common type of impaction is mesioangular impaction, in which the wisdom tooth is angled toward the front of the mouth. Like distoangular impaction, the severity of the angle greatly determines whether or not surgery is necessary. In many cases, teeth with a mesioangular impaction only partially erupt from the gums in the back. Our surgeons will monitor how the tooth is progressing to see if or when removal would be best.
Unfortunately, horizontal impaction is the worst type of impaction to have. This is when the tooth is completely horizontal, meaning there’s no chance for it to erupt normally. While it might be stable for a while, it will eventually start pushing directly into the adjacent molar, causing severe toothaches and pain in the jaw. In cases like these, surgery is recommended early on to prevent the wisdom tooth from causing too much suffering.
Vertical impaction is the most desired type of impaction. Because the wisdom tooth is pointed directly upward in a vertical orientation, there’s a good chance it will erupt normally. If this is the case, surgery is not usually required. The only reason patients with vertical impaction might need surgery is if the tooth is putting too much pressure on a molar or part of the jawbone.
What Is the Wisdom Teeth Removal Process Like?
Wisdom teeth removal varies greatly depending on the type of impaction. For simple vertical impactions, the tooth just needs to be pulled, much like any other tooth in the mouth. However, things become a little trickier with Mesioangular, Distoangular, and Horizontal Impactions.
Either way, before the procedure can begin, patients need an initial consultation without surgeons. In this consultation, they will take X-rays, 3D scans, and more to get a better look at how the Wisdom Teeth are impacted. He can then determine whether or not the teeth need to be removed or if they are safe to remain as is for the time being.
If Wisdom Teeth Removal is recommended, the procedure should take just about 45 minutes from start to finish and can be done right in our Norman, Edmond or Lawton office. Our surgeons will use Local Anesthesia, Iv Sedation, or General Anesthesia. To ensure patients feel nothing during the extraction. Once the patient is rendered unconscious, or into a state of relaxation, they will then begin by cutting through any gums in the way of the teeth. At this point, vertically oriented teeth can be removed with ease.
For Mesioangular or Distoangular Teeth, any bone that is blocking access to the tooth may need to be removed so the tooth can be pulled. Horizontal Impactions involve even more work, as these teeth may need to be cut and divided into sections for easier removal. Once the tooth is removed, our surgeons will clean away any debris, close the gum wounds with stitches to promote healing, and put gauze around the area to stop the bleeding.
Generally, all four teeth are removed in one session, so the process does not have to be repeated in the future.
What Happens After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
After the wisdom teeth have been extracted, patients need to adhere to strict aftercare instructions to ensure things heal smoothly. In particular, they’ll need to apply pressure to the wound in the form of gauze to help a blood clot form. Not doing this can cause a dry socket to form, which is when the bone socket where the tooth once was is exposed, causing pain and possible infection.
Patients will also need to pay close attention to how they clean their teeth. While being on a liquid and soft foods diet should prevent large food particles from making their way into the incision site, patients still need to be steadfast in their cleaning efforts. They won’t be allowed to brush or rinse for 24 hours after the surgery, but after that, they should rinse with warm salt water frequently to cleanse the area throughout the day.
The day of the surgery, patients will need to take it easy as they recover. However, they can resume their normal activities the next day as long as they avoid exercise or other strenuous exertion.
Swelling and pain should ease in a few days, and if our surgeons used dissolvable stitches, patients might not even need to return to the office for a follow-up appointment.
What Are the Benefits of Wisdom Teeth Removal?
There are many advantages to having wisdom teeth removed. Obviously, having wisdom teeth removed can eliminate much of the pain associated with impaction. Other symptoms wisdom teeth removal can help relieve include:
- Swelling, especially in the jaw area.
- Bleeding of the gums, where the wisdom teeth are attempting to emerge.
- Chronic infection of the gums and teeth, which can lead to decay in other parts of the mouth.
- Swollen glands in the neck and shoulder, often caused as a reaction to infection.
- Chronic headaches, which can occur because of pressure on the jaw.
Having Wisdom Teeth removed at an earlier age is also a better approach than waiting until a person is older. This is because:
- Younger people have an easier time with the surgery than older people because they heal faster.
- Removing teeth before they have a chance to cause symptoms can prevent the patient from suffering.
- Having teeth removed before they apply pressure to the mouth can prevent misalignment of other teeth. After teeth become crooked, they can then only be corrected through orthodontic intervention.
Schedule Wisdom Teeth Removal With OKDIOS Today
For patients who still have their Wisdom Teeth, our surgeons are available to extract them. They consistently put patients first so that everyone who walks through the door feels welcomed and confident.
Using their knowledge and experience, they can provide a simple, painless, and fast wisdom teeth removal experience with a low chance of complications. Don’t wait until your wisdom teeth become problematic; schedule your extraction procedure today by calling Oklahoma Dental Implants and Oral Surgery at (405) 329-3500.