Wisdom Teeth

A girl sitting outsideBy the age of 18, the number of teeth in the mouth is 32; 16 teeth on the top (in the upper arch) and 16 teeth on the bottom (in the lower arch). Each tooth has a specific function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisor, canine and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth (molar teeth) are used to grind food into a consistency suitable for swallowing.

Unfortunately, the size of the average mouth is not large enough to accommodate the 32 teeth. In fact, the back teeth in the upper and lower jaws are termed third molars and often called “wisdom teeth”. Typically, they fail to erupt completely because of the size of the jaw bones. Crowding and decay are likely consequences in patients who present with unerupted (impacted) third molars or partially-to-completely erupted third molars.

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth begin to cause problems between the ages of 16-21. When these third molars align properly and the gum tissue around the teeth is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. However, this is not a common occurrence. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are never erupt through the gum or are partially erupted inside the mouth. This condition evidences itself when the third molar erupts sideways, partially emerging from the gum tissue with the remaining tooth trapped beneath the gum and/or bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt.

Poorly positioned impacted molars can cause many oral health issues. When a wisdom tooth is partially erupted, gum tissue surrounding the tooth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria which can result in an infection. Also, this impacted molar places pressure on the adjacent teeth, disrupting the natural alignment of the dentition. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted tooth, resulting in the destruction of the adjacent teeth through decay and the destruction of the surrounding bone.

Removal of the offending impacted teeth between the ages of 16-21 usually resolves these problems.

Oral Examination

With an oral examination and radiographs (X-rays) of the upper and lower jaws, Dr. Shroyer can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and determine their need for removal. Studies have shown that early evaluation/treatment in the mid-teen years by a dentist, orthodontist or oral surgeon results in a superior outcome for the patient.

This outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Shroyer has the training, licensure and experience to provide various types of anesthesia to ensure the comfort of his patients.


Wisdom Teeth Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

Having trouble? Please make sure you have the Adobe Flash Player plugin installed in order to correctly view this presentation. This software is available as a free download.

In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth can be performed under local anesthesia (injections in the mouth). However, nitrous oxide/oxygen anesthesia (laughing gas) or general anesthesia (IV sedation) are often chosen by patients. These options, as well as the surgical risks (I.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gum tissue is often sutured. Patients will bite down on a piece of gauze for a short time following surgery to control bleeding at the extraction site. Patients are brought to a recovery area under the supervision of experienced staff following surgical procedures involving IV sedation. Once discharged, a post-operative kit which includes post operative instructions, a prescription for pain medication, and a follow-up appointment time in 2-3 weeks will be given to each patient. Concerns or questions are welcomed at 817-468-5400.

Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety. We utilize modern monitoring equipment and staff who have earned advanced training and education through the AAOMS Anesthesia Assistants Program.