Wisdom Tooth Surgery

By the age of eighteen, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canines and bicuspids) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth or molar teeth are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.

It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that is  made to hold only 28. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as "wisdom teeth."

Why Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?

They may grow in sideways, partially emerge from the gum and even remain trapped beneath the gum in the bone. Impacted teeth can end up in various positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, jaw stiffness, pain and infection. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth 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 tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risks involved with the procedure.

How long will I be swollen after wisdom tooth removal?

  • Swelling peaks out at 36-48 hours post-operation.
  • You can expect to be swollen for no more than a week after your surgery depending on the difficulty of the extractions.
  • Impacted teeth will swell more because their removal requires more trauma to the bone.

What happens when you get your wisdom teeth out?

A typical wisdom tooth case is done asleep. The patient is intravenously sedated and once they are asleep they are given local anesthetic in the form of injection lidocaine and Marcaine. Once the local anesthetic has had some time to sink in, the throat is sucked dry with a tonsil suction and a throat pack (bunched gauze) is placed in the back of the mouth to protect the airway. A bite block will be placed inside of the mouth and the gum will be pushed away from the bone with a periosteal elevator. If the teeth are impacted a blade is used to cut the gum and  expose the underlying bone. The bone can be drilled to make a small groove in the tooth and an elevator is used to pry it away from the jaw bone. When the tooth has erupted an elevator can be used to loosen the tooth away from the gum. Once the tooth is out a bone file is used to smooth the jawbone and sterile irrigation is used to flush the socket. Silk sutures are then placed in the socket to close the wound. Most patients will be prescribed antibiotics to minimize risk of infection.