Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
An extraction may be necessary when a tooth cannot be saved by a root canal, filling or crown. Teeth which have cracked or are too extensively decayed may fall in this category. Wisdom teeth are commonly removed. We prefer to try to save teeth with endodontic therapy, crowns, or a filling, if at all possible, because extraction is an irreversible procedure. Occasionally we may need to refer you to a specialist (oral surgeon), if the extraction or your medical history is complicated.
Wisdom Tooth Extractions
Wisdom teeth, commonly referred to as third molars, are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth. Most people get their wisdom teeth in their late teens or early twenties. Because they are often difficult to keep clean, decay easily and can create crowding in the mouth, wisdom teeth are often removed. Wisdom teeth can become trapped under the gum, or impacted. Sometimes the impaction is at an angle or horizontally impacted. Depending on the condition, certain impactions can cause damage to the adjacent teeth. It is important for you to have your wisdom teeth evaluated, to determine your risk, and decide whether or not you should have them removed. Below are a few examples of conditions that can occur.
Horizontal Impaction Vertical Impaction Mesial Impaction Distal impaction
Horizontal impaction is a severe condition that prevents the tooth from uprighting and erupting properly. Root resorption (or the dissolving of the tooth next to the wisdom tooth) is a potential complication of delaying extraction.
Vertical impactions sometimes may erupt normally, but if the process is slow, it can be painful, become inflamed and infected, or may potentially damage the adjacent teeth.
Mesial impactions are the most common type of impaction, and usually require extraction. If not caught early enough, this type of impaction, just like the horizontal impaction situation, can cause the roots of the teeth next to the wisdom teeth, to resorb or eat away, which damages the tooth which has already erupted.
Distal impactions are when the wisdom tooth is angled back towards the back of the mouth (distal). As the jaw grows, sometimes these impactions will work their way out. If the jaw doesn't continue to grow, the tooth will be only partially erupted, which causes decay, pocketing, gum disease, and bad breath.
Parents: Plan ahead for your high school and college students. Most wisdom tooth extractions are performed over Christmas and summer breaks, and in between school semesters.