Wisdom Teeth Removal

Oral Examination for Extraction of Wisdom Teeth

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, our doctors evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and determine if there are any current or potential future problems. If you do not have enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to fully erupt, some potential problems can happen.  Some possible problems related to not removing your wisdom teeth include infection, cyst formation, crowding, and damage to the adjacent teeth.  Our doctors will thoroughly discuss any of the risks, benefits and potential complications with you at your consultation appointment.

A representation of a pericoronitis infection on a wisdom tooth

Infection:

The most frequent clinical problem we see is a localized gum infection, (pericoronitis).  Without enough room for total eruption, the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth can become irritated and infected, resulting in recurrent pain, swelling, and problems with chewing and/or swallowing.

An example of a cyst formation on a wisdom tooth

Cyst Formation:

Non-infectious diseases may also arise in association with an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts are fluid-filled “balloons” inside the jaw bone that develop as a result of impacted teeth and slowly expand, destroying adjacent jaw bone and  teeth on occasion as well. They can be very difficult to treat if your wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years. Although rare, tumors can be associated with the delayed removal of wisdom teeth.

An illustration of teeth crowding causes by a wisdom tooth

Possible Crowding:

Impacted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of your teeth. This is most noticeable with the front teeth, primarily the lower front teeth, and is most commonly seen after a patient has had braces. There are a number of factors that cause teeth to crowd after braces or in early adulthood. Retained, impacted wisdom teeth may be a contributing factor. Unless you have an active problem when you see the oral surgeon, the reason for removal is primarily to prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums and jaw bone.

A visual of a wisdom tooth damaging an adjacent tooth

Damage to Adjacent Teeth:

If there is inadequate room to clean around the wisdom tooth, the second molar (the tooth directly in front of the wisdom tooth), can be adversely affected, resulting in gum disease, bone loss around the tooth, and/or decay.

What happens on the day wisdom teeth are removed?

Most patients prefer to be unaware of the experience when they have their wisdom teeth removed and usually decide to be sedated.  All appropriate options will be discussed at your consultation. 

On the day of your procedure, you will take medications to help minimize post-operative discomfort and swelling.  We ask that a parent or responsible adult accompany you to the office and plan to stay with you the rest of the day.  On the morning or afternoon of your surgery, it is essential that you do not eat or drink for at least 6 hours prior to the surgery if you have chosen to be sedated. Your procedure will need to be rescheduled if you have not followed these guidelines. 

If you plan to be sedated for the procedure, we will place an IV in your left arm.  This IV ensures optimal delivery of your medication.  Local anesthesia is also given to ensure your comfort and allow time to travel home and rest.  Once the local anesthesia wears off, you may require prescription pain medication.  You will be sleepy for a significant portion of the day.

smiling teenage son with his mother

The Day of Treatment

Be sure to have an adult with you at the time of wisdom teeth removal. Make plans to have a parent or responsible adult stay with you for the rest of the day.

If your surgery requires stitches, these typically dissolve in 3 to 5 days and do not require removal. You may notice a sensation of your gums feeling swollen.  This is all part of the normal recovery process and will subside in several days.

We recommend starting your post-operative diet with clear liquids such as Jello and broths, gradually increasing in substance as your body permits.  We do not recommend using dairy products such as yogurt, ice cream or milkshakes on the day of surgery since nausea and vomiting may occur in conjunction with the anesthetic and pain medication. 

What does wisdom tooth removal cost and is it covered by insurance?

The fee for your treatment is determined by a number of factors. These may include the difficulty involved in removing your teeth and which type of anesthesia is best for you.  During your consultation appointment, the surgeon will review your x-rays, complete an examination, and determine the best option for anesthesia before an accurate estimate can be provided. Every insurance company has a different policy regarding the extent of coverage for a given surgical procedure. Our staff will help you obtain maximum insurance coverage for your treatment.

What if I have questions before surgery?

At the time of your consultation, your specific situation will be discussed in greater detail.  We encourage you to ask any questions you may have. If any new questions arise after your consultation, please call our office and we will be happy to assist you.