Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Wisdom teeth are also referred to as third molars and are the last teeth to develop, typically in your mid-teens or early twenties. They are notoriously problematic because they are so far back in the mouth that they're difficult to clean properly. Wisdom teeth also tend to crowd existing teeth as they erupt, which can make cleaning between teeth a problem.
At Lake Forest Oral Surgery, Dr. Suzin Um understands the impact that these teeth can have on the health of your smile.
Why Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?
Our prehistoric ancestors needed the chewing power of wisdom teeth to process a diet that consisted of tough or coarse twigs, roots, and leaves. Their jaws were larger to accommodate these teeth.
Today, of course, our diets consist of foods that don't require the same chewing power. Over time, our jaws have gotten smaller, which typically results in overcrowding. For this reason, wisdom teeth are commonly impacted, which means they become stuck in your jaw bone.
We recommend removing wisdom teeth at an early age to minimize your risk and for optimal healing. As we age, regeneration of bone slows down, and studies have shown that bone healing is superior and more predictable at a younger age.
Problems We Can Avoid with Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom teeth may erupt only partially, leaving an area that traps food in the space between the gum tissue and the tooth. This creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive, which leads to a condition called pericoronitis, or inflammation, tenderness, and pain in the gums.
If the crown of a wisdom tooth touches the root of the adjacent second molar, resorption (melting away) of the second molar's roots can ultimately lead to tooth loss.
Cavities and Periodontal Disease
In certain cases, food can get trapped between the wisdom teeth and second molars. It is very difficult to clean this area, which can lead to cavities and periodontal disease. Also, the bacteria from a cavity in the third molar can spread to the second molar. Your second molar is essential for chewing, so it’s important to get an evaluation so we can prevent cavities from forming.
Periodontal disease is an inflammation of the gun that can lead to loss of bone under the gum. Inflammation is caused by food debris or tartar accumulation.
Tumors and Cysts
Impacted teeth sometimes form tumors and cysts that attack the surrounding bone. The damaged can be devastating and even lead to fractures of the jaw that may result in procedures to remove part of the jaw.
Risk of Nerve Injury
As the roots of wisdom teeth continue to develop, they become entangled with the nerve inside the jaw that provides sensation to your lower lip, chin, cheek, and tongue. If the root grows around the nerve, injury can occur, resulting in permanent numbness. Extracting teeth at an early age before the roots are fully developed is the best approach.
What If I Have a High Risk of Nerve Injury?
At Lake Forest Oral Surgery, we do not recommend removing the entire tooth as there is a high risk of nerve injury that causes permanent numbness of the lip, chin, and cheek. Instead, we offer a partial tooth removal procedure called a coronectomy that lowers the risk of nerve injury. Dr. Um removes the crown of the tooth, leaving the root intact. In most cases, this procedure allows the root to grow away from the nerve, allowing the safe removal of the root in the future if it stays buried under the gum. This procedure needs monitoring and can be a good option for high-risk patients.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction in Foothill Ranch
Once your dentist has referred you for wisdom tooth extraction, the next step is a consultation with Dr. Um who assesses your situation through clinical and radiographic examination.
When we meet with you, we will discuss the benefits, risks, and alternatives to surgery. Dr. Um will take the time to answer all your questions before the procedure so you know what to expect. We will also talk to you about our sedation options that allow you to relax and get the care you need. We can comfortably perform wisdom teeth surgery under local anesthesia, nitrous oxide, or sedation.