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Wisdom Teeth

The average adult has 32 teeth by age eighteen: 16 teeth on the 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, canine, and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces while the back teeth, or molar teeth, are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing. However, the average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. The shape of the modern human mouth is often too small to accommodate wisdom teeth which make their first appearance in young adults between the ages of 15 to 25. Over the course of time, humans learned to harness fire for cooking foods and developed blade tools to better process food before consumption. They reduced the need for strong jaws to chew food. According to studies of ancient skull specimens, over time, a full set of teeth in a smaller jaw causes crowding in permanent teeth because of lack of space. Humans are congenitally missing one or more wisdom teeth at an increasing prevalence.

 

Why should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

 

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly, and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many 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, stiffness, pain, and illness. 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 jaw bone 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 risk involved with the procedure.

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Simone can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in their mid-teenage years by their dentist or orthodontist.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Simone has the training, licensing, and experience to provide various types of anesthesia to allow patients to select the best alternative. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety.