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Posts for tag: wisdom teeth

By Greg Herzler
July 01, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  
7FAQsAboutImpactedWisdomTeeth

“Impacted wisdom teeth.” The term alone sounds ominous. What are wisdom teeth, why do they become impacted, what is the best way to treat them? These are questions people often ask.

What are “wisdom teeth” anyway?
Your third molars, located in the very back of your jaws, are your wisdom teeth. Most people have four of them.

Why is their name associated with wisdom?
They usually begin to come in when a person is 17 to 25 years old, a time when he or she can be said to begin to reach an age of wisdom.

Doesn't everyone get wisdom teeth?
While some people have more than four, others have fewer, and some have no wisdom teeth at all. Some people have wisdom teeth that can be seen in x-rays but do not erupt (grow up through their gums) and become visible.

What does “impacted” mean?
In normal usage, the term “impact” means “influence or effect.” In dental vocabulary, it means that a tooth is affecting another tooth or a nearby structure such as gums, nerves or blood vessels. Often an impacted wisdom tooth grows sideways into an adjacent tooth instead of growing upwards to come through the gums normally. This may be caused by a lack of room in your jaw for your third molars.

What kinds of problems can impacted wisdom teeth cause?
A wisdom tooth can impact the gum tissues surrounding nearby molars, leading to infection called “periodontal disease” (from the root words for “around” and “tooth.”) They can also cause root resorption in adjacent teeth, a process by which the tooth’s roots are slowly dissolved and eaten away.

What are the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth?
Sometimes impacted teeth are asymptomatic — you feel nothing, even though damage is being done to gums and teeth surrounding the wisdom teeth. That's why it's a good idea to have regular checkups even if you are feeling no pain. Other times, impacted teeth can lead to acute inflammation and infection in surrounding gum tissues that is very painful.

Should I proactively have my wisdom teeth removed if they are not giving me any trouble?
Not necessarily but your wisdom teeth need to be evaluated. Generally speaking, however, it's better to remove wisdom teeth early, before they begin to cause dental problems. By the time a wisdom tooth starts to hurt, its neighboring teeth may already be in big trouble. In addition, younger people's wisdom teeth have undeveloped roots that make them easier to remove with fewer complications.

Contact our office for a full assessment and consultation about your wisdom teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth: To Be Or Not To Be?

WhatFlorenceHendersonLearnedFromHerImpactedTeeth

Life lessons are learned in the most surprising places. This is no different for celebrities. Take, for example, Florence Henderson, an actress, singer, philanthropist, author and star of the hit television series, The Brady Bunch. As she told Dear Doctor magazine, her experience with having four impacted wisdom teeth removed — at the same time — “...only made me more aware of how important dental care is.” She continued, “This is why I have always gone every six months for a check up.”

Another important lesson we want to share is the fact that even if your impacted third molars (wisdom teeth) are not bothering you or causing any pain, you may still need to have them removed.

Why? Having a tooth submerged below the gum, pressing on the roots of other teeth is problematic; the tooth should be removed so that you can avoid major dental problems before they occur. For example, it is not uncommon for us to find an impacted third molar pressing against the roots of the adjacent second molar. Furthermore, because the enamel crown of this impacted tooth is trapped below the gum, we sometimes find an infection, gum disease or even cyst formation occurring.

Often, the best time to remove a wisdom tooth is when it is not causing any problems. This is because a painful wisdom tooth or pain in the area of the wisdom tooth may be a sign that significant damage has occurred or is occurring. It is also better to remove wisdom teeth when you are young, as young healthy people with no prior infections at the site provide the best opportunity for us to remove the tooth with no complications.

To learn more about impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removing Wisdom Teeth.” Or if you suspect or already know that you have an impacted wisdom tooth, contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination that includes x-rays. During this private consultation, we will also address any questions you have as well as your treatment options. And if you want to read the entire article on Florence Henderson, continue reading “Florence Henderson.”

By Greg Herzler
September 25, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  

Of all the teeth in the mouth, the ones receiving the most discussion and controversy would have to be the wisdom teeth or third molars. And this is not just a recent phenomenon, as people have been discussing them for centuries! See how much you really know about wisdom teeth by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.

  1. Third molars received their name, “wisdom teeth,” because a moderate amount of wisdom is supposedly achieved in life about the time they appear.
    True or False
  2. Wisdom teeth and all of their associated problems are commonplace in the practice of dentistry.
    True or False
  3. Because wisdom teeth are so unpredictable, they typically make their appearance between the ages of 17 and 25.
    True or False
  4. The most common consequence of impacted wisdom teeth is gum (periodontal) disease.
    True or False
  5. If wisdom teeth are not removed, they will become impacted or cause crowding. This is why so many people require orthodontic treatment (braces).
    True or False
  6. While most people have four wisdom teeth, having more (supernumerary teeth) or less (hypodontia) is possible.
    True or False
  7. Through dental x-rays and routine check-ups, we can predict the timing and way in which wisdom teeth become visible (erupt).
    True or False
  8. An impacted wisdom tooth, by definition, is a third molar that is colliding with or jammed against another important structure, such as an adjacent tooth, the gums or other important soft tissues in the mouth, or nerves and blood vessels.
    True or False
  9. The primary symptom for indicating you have an impacted wisdom tooth is pain.
    True or False
  10. If wisdom teeth need to be removed, it is best to remove them at a younger age rather than waiting until periodontal disease has started.
    True or False

Answers: 1) True. 2) True. 3) True. 4) True. 5) False. While wisdom teeth can be a factor in crowding, some people have no issues with these teeth. For them, they grow into proper position and are healthy teeth. 6) True. 7) False. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict the way wisdom teeth will erupt. 8) True. 9) False. In some scenarios, impacted wisdom may cause no pain. 10) True.

To learn more about wisdom teeth and in particular, impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.

By Greg Herzler
September 04, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt in the late teens or early twenties — so-called because they come in around the age of maturity or “wisdom.” While teeth are designed to last a lifetime, wisdom teeth are often problematic requiring early removal because they frequently become impacted, meaning they are not able to erupt fully through the gums to become healthy functioning teeth. However, not all wisdom teeth need to be removed if they are fully erupted and functional.

Prevention: Having a tooth submerged below the gum, pressing on the roots of neighboring teeth can cause damage and decay even though you may not be feeling any discomfort. By the time the tooth becomes painful, significant damage may already have occurred. In addition, the ability of the body to heal following oral surgery tends to decrease with age. A recent study sponsored by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation strongly recommends that wisdom teeth be removed in young adulthood in order to prevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing.

Reasons for Removal: If your wisdom teeth are impacted against (pressing on) the roots of other teeth, damage can occur. To prevent infections, gum disease, decay, or damage to other permanent teeth, our office may recommend removal of your wisdom teeth.

What to Expect: If wisdom teeth removal is recommended, it can generally be done in the dental office as a surgical procedure with local anesthesia and conscious sedation (twilight sleep). After the surgery, you may experience some moderate discomfort and swelling depending on the degree of impaction and difficulty. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, or prescription medication for several days after surgery will provide pain relief and control swelling.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding removal of your wisdom teeth. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth: To Be Or Not to Be?

By Greg Herzler
May 29, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  

The third molars, called “wisdom teeth” because they usually become visible when a person is 17 to 25 — supposedly the time we achieve wisdom, may have adverse effects on adjacent teeth. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, although some people have more; and some, none at all. The wisest thing to do about wisdom teeth may be to have them removed if they are poorly positioned.

What is an impacted wisdom tooth?

If a wisdom tooth is pushing against gums, other soft tissues, or adjacent teeth at an awkward angle, it is referred to as “impacted.” Usually this occurs when there is not have enough room in the jaws for these last molars to fit next to their adjacent teeth. They can disrupt the gum tissue attachment of their neighboring teeth and the surrounding bone leading to periodontal disease and, ultimately, their loss.

In many cases, impacted teeth are painless, and those who have them have no warning of the problem. Thus it is important to have routine dental exams during the time when the third molars are coming in.

When should wisdom teeth be removed?

It is better to remove wisdom teeth early rather than waiting until periodontal (gum) disease has set in. As individuals age, keeping their wisdom teeth may lead to more serious problems. Periodontal defects tend to get worse in the presence of retained third molars. Furthermore, there is a higher incidence of postoperative symptoms in people over 25.

What are the pros and cons?

Removing impacted third molars can have a negative influence on the periodontal tissues of adjacent second molars. A number of techniques, such as scaling, root planing, and bacterial plaque control, can be used to minimize periodontal problems and promote healthy healing.

Surgical removal of wisdom teeth will involve some mild to moderate post-operative discomfort. Use of aspirin or ibuprofen for a few days after surgery will provide pain relief and control most swelling and symptoms. Antibiotics may be prescribed to ensure infection-free healing. It is important to keep the socket area clean by washing and rinsing with saline or antibacterial rinses. Careful surgery will promote good healing with minimal periodontal consequences to adjacent second molar teeth.

To decide whether your wisdom teeth should be removed, you will need an evaluation to assess the clinical health of the wisdom teeth, the neighboring teeth, and other vital structures. X-ray and digital imaging techniques play an important role in determining the exact position of the wisdom teeth in the jaw. A full assessment and consultation will include all the risks, benefits, likely consequences, and alternative treatment options. This will provide you with the wisdom you need to determine what is best for your wisdom teeth.

To learn more about wisdom teeth, read “To Be or Not to Be: What are the consequences of an impacted wisdom tooth?” Or contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.