What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to develop. They start to move into the mouth during your later teenage years. Most people have four total, although some people may never get any. Wisdom teeth are just another set of molars – there is really nothing special about them.
Why do I need them removed?
Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. If a wisdom tooth has enough space to erupt into place, and the patient can keep the teeth clean, then wisdom teeth can be kept for life. Unfortunately, this situation doesn’t happen often. Wisdom teeth usually don’t have the space they need, and may turn sideways or get stuck on the way out. Improperly positioned teeth can create a variety of long-term problems for patients. Even the best brushers have trouble cleaning wisdom teeth. If not cleaned properly, wisdom teeth usually develop gum disease and decay (that may also affect your other molars too).
What if my wisdom teeth hurt right now?
Some discomfort can be normal, up to a certain point. However, a partially visible wisdom tooth can develop an infection around it. If you are running a fever or have a bad taste in your mouth, the After Orthodontics team can help you out. If you have trouble breathing, don’t wait – go to the hospital immediately. Fortunately that is very rare!
I’ve seen recent news articles talking about how dentists take out too many wisdom teeth. Is that true?
We’ve read these too. It’s an important discussion to have with our patients – you need to be fully informed. News coverage can sometimes oversimplify scientific data. It’s hard to capture a complicated discussion in a short space – both here and in a news story. Not all wisdom teeth need to come out, and some patients who have them removed may not have needed the procedure. The challenge is trying to determine who is who. Scientific studies have a tough time finding out how effective preventive procedures are, because we cannot count something that didn’t happen – we prevented it. Your After Orthodontics™ doctors have a variety of backgrounds and a lot of collective experience. We do our very best to assess your particular level of risk and give you the best information possible to help you decide what to do. You are part of our After Orthodontics™ family and we want to treat you just as we would any other family member.
Am I going to swell up like a chipmunk after the procedure?
Possibly. Removing wisdom teeth is a surgical procedure, so some discomfort and swelling is normal. Some patients may bruise a little too. There are other side effects that we will discuss with you in person during your consultation appointment. We do our very best to reduce those side effects as much as possible. Everyone will have a different experience, depending on how your teeth are positioned. For many patients, the procedure is not as bad as they thought it would be. Between stories from your friends and Youtube, it is easy to make yourself nervous. Your After Orthodontics™ team is there to support you and get you through it…which brings us to the next question.
Am I awake for the procedure?
You don’t have to be. Some patients want to be awake, but others want to be asleep. We offer different levels of sedation which helps you to relax and causes amnesia for the procedure. You are not asleep exactly, but you won’t remember much. If we ask you to turn your head, you will still be able to do it. But, you won’t remember doing it. Everyone responds a little differently to sedation medications, but almost all patients are candidates for it if they choose. Your After Orthodontics™ surgeons operate with a very high level of training and margin of safety when it comes to sedation. We have state-of-the-art monitoring equipment (known as end tidal CO2 monitors). There are some “rules” that go along with sedation, and it is very important to discuss them with your After Orthodontics™ team members.