Wisdom Teeth 101
Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a painless, easy procedure. Here at the Smoot Center for Oral Surgery we are trying to make it even easier. Chances are you probably have a lot of questions about wisdom teeth, so here are a few answers to those most common questions.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the 3rd and last set of molars to develop. Generally, this happens between ages 15 to 25 but in some cases can happen earlier or later. Once the wisdom teeth have developed or erupted, most teeth, about 85%, will need to be removed.
What is an Impacted Tooth?
Most wisdom teeth become “impacted” which means that there is a lack of space in the dental arch and its growth and eruption are prevented by overlying gum, bone or another tooth. If the tooth has erupted out of the jawbone, it is called a soft tissue impaction. If the tooth remains encased in the jawbone, it is called a bony impaction and may require some bone removal or breaking up the tooth in order to remove it. Since this is a sensitive medical procedure, patients with impacted teeth should consult a trained Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon like Dr. Smoot for treatment.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Extracted?
For most patients, either their wisdom teeth are impacted or will become impacted. Either way, the teeth must be extracted in order to avoid complications and damage. Impacted teeth can cause infection, damage to other teeth, crowding of the teeth, formation of cysts, and nerve damage. Even wisdom teeth that are erupting normally are as prone to disease as impacted molars.
What Are the Signs My Wisdom Teeth Are Coming In?
Sometimes teeth that need to be extracted show no noticeable signs or symptoms. Other times symptoms may include swelling of the gum at the back of the mouth, stiffness in the jaw near the wisdom tooth, pain and irritation in the area of the tooth, teeth crowding, sensitivity in the area of the wisdom tooth, and tooth decay at the back of the mouth. If you experience these symptoms, contact the Smoot Center or discuss wisdom tooth options with your general dentist.
When Should I First Get an Exam or Consultation?
Patients regularly visiting a general dentist will be advised as to when they should have their wisdom teeth removed. This should begin sometime around 15 years old when the general dentist will refer the patient to a skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeon like Dr. Smoot. Patients without a general dentist should schedule a consultation with an oral surgeon around age 15, before the wisdom teeth begin to erupt. It is not advisable to wait until there is any pain or pressure felt in the rear of the jaw. Since the bone is softer at a younger age, the earlier the wisdom teeth are able to be removed, the easier the surgery and recovery will be.
What’s the Difference Between a Dentist and an Oral Surgeon?
Though both a dentist and oral surgeon have graduated from a 4 year accredited dental school, only an oral surgeon has completed an additional 4 more years of residency at a hospital-based oral and maxillofacial surgery program. Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons specialize in diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries and defects, both functional and aesthetic, involving the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons have been fully trained in administering anesthesia and deep sedation. Though some general dentists choose to perform delicate surgeries such as wisdom teeth extractions, you can trust that a qualified, trained and board certified oral surgeon such as Dr. Smoot has completed the additional education to treat both complicated and routine oral surgeries and has been trained in administering anesthesia and deep sedation to make your surgery and recovery as comfortable as possible.
What Are My Sedation Options?
Depending on the preference of the patient, the preference of Dr. Smoot, or depending on a patient’s health condition, a patient can be sedated by either:
• Local Anesthesia - This includes numbing the tooth that will be treated as well as the gum surrounding the tooth. The patient remains awake and alert during this process, but pain in the anesthetized area will be minimized.
• Deep Sedation - Administered intravenously, deep sedation is a sedative and not only helps the patient cope with anxiety, but also affects the patient’s consciousness to minimize the pain. During this process, the patient will be in “deep sleep” during the entire treatment. After deep sedation, patients will not be fully lucid and therefore will not be able to drive home. Patients receiving this treatment will be required to have someone drive them home.
What Can I Expect After the Surgery?
The days and weeks after surgery are critical for proper healing. Every body heals differently and at different rates. As a result of the surgery, conditions may occur all of which a trained Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon like Dr. Smoot can address and treat.
• Bleeding and Oozing - Most bleeding and oozing after surgery is inevitable and part of the healing process. Both may last up to 4 days. Rinsing immediately after the surgery loosens the blood clot in the wound and can prolong healing which results in bleeding and oozing. After 24 hours, light rinses with lukewarm saltwater can help to ease these symptoms.
• Swelling - Patients should expect some swelling after surgery. The duration varies among patients, but if swelling reappears after a few weeks, this may be an indication of an infection and the patient should contact their surgeon.
• Dry Socket - Caused by a dislodged blood clot at the extraction area, dry socket is a painful inflammation to the alveolar bone. Most dry socket incidents self heal and the pain can be controlled with ibuprofen. For more extreme pain, consult your oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
• Stitches - Some surgeries require stitches and some do not. Stitches can be self-dissolving and will dissolve with time. Non dissolving stitches will require a follow up visit to the oral surgeon to have them removed.
• Parasthesia - Though rare, paresthesia may occur from complicated surgeries within the jawbone and close to the nerves. The resulting bruised or damaged nerves may cause temporary or even permanent numbness in the tongue, lip or chin.
What Are My Payment Options?
The Smoot Center for Oral Surgery not only provides the best oral surgery treatment, but also provides a variety of easy payment options so you can get the care that you need:
• Insurance - At the time of your consultation, please provide the appropriate insurance information as well as your insurance ID number. Prior to treatment, we require the patient to cover the expected co-insurance cost. Please check the list of the insurance providers and plans we accept or call us at (801)264-8504.
• Care Credit - The Smoot Center for Oral Surgery offers another payment option through Care Credit. This is a healthcare credit card that can be used as a payment option for certain expenses not covered by insurance, or to bridge situations when desired care exceeds insurance coverage. It’s an easy and robust option which allows you to get the care you need when you need it. Patients can apply for Care Credit by going to the website at www.carecredit.com or calling (800) 677-0718.
• Check (with valid ID)
• Visa, Mastercard, Discover