Wisdom Teeth

What Is It?

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are teeth that begin to develop within the jawbones in the early teenage years.

If there is adequate space in the jawbones, these teeth are able to successfully erupt in a healthy fashion, and do not need to be removed.

In many instances, there is insufficient space to allow for successful eruption of wisdom teeth. This can result in pain, swelling of the gums, infection, damage to adjacent teeth, and development of jaw cysts. In addition, there is some evidence that the development of impacted third molar teeth may be one of several factors that contribute to dental crowding.

Third molar teeth do not provide any significant contribution to our ability to chew. Their removal does not limit chewing function, and does not cause other teeth to shift.

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness.

The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth.

The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems.

Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons states that the standard of care is to consider removal of third molar prior to the development of pathology (on a preventative basis), when there is insufficient space for eruption and maintenance, at a time when the post-surgical healing is optimal and the risk of complications is low.

Oral Examination

Dr. Freilich performs an examination of your mouth, and will review a current radiograph (x-ray). This will help in the diagnosis of the condition of your wisdom teeth, and will provide insight as to whether there is existing pathology or disease (which, in many cases, do not cause symptoms), as well as an indication of the potential for future problems. Based on numerous scientific studies, preventative removal of impacted wisdom teeth in the teenage years is generally recommended.

Wisdom Tooth Removal

The removal of wisdom teeth is usually performed under general anesthesia. At your consultation, if removal of your wisdom teeth is recommended, Dr. Freilich will discuss the type of anesthesia you would be given, the rationale for recommending surgery, as well as what to expect after surgery. You would also be informed of the risks associated with removal of your wisdom teeth, which can include infection, sensory nerve damage, sinus complications and/or damage to adjacent teeth.

Dr. Freilich generally uses sutures that are self-dissolving. Even with the placement of sutures, it is usual to experience a mild amount of bleeding for up to 24 hours after surgery. Our office will provide you with instructions and information to assist you in caring for your mouth during your recovery. You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, and prescriptions for pain medication and antibiotics. A follow-up appointment is scheduled for 2 weeks following surgery; however, if you experience any problems following surgery, you are encouraged to call our office at 416 789-5335 for earlier follow-up if required.