Posts for tag: wisdom teeth
The reason for extracting a tooth may be all too obvious — the tooth is too decayed or damaged to attempt saving. The reason for extracting a wisdom tooth, on the other hand, may not be so apparent: from the perspective of pain or reduced function, you may not notice a thing. Our recommendation to remove a wisdom tooth is based primarily on what may be occurring out of view below the gum line and its potential threat to adjacent teeth.
Teeth grow and develop below the gum line in the jaw, and then push their way through the gums as they appear in the mouth (eruption). After a normal eruption, the enamel-covered crown is visible above the gum line; the remaining tooth root (about two-thirds of the tooth’s length) resides below the gum line. Because wisdom teeth, or third molars, erupt rather late between ages 17 and 25, they may lack the room to erupt properly due to crowding from other teeth that have already erupted. This can cause the wisdom tooth not to erupt fully through the gums, leaving the crown trapped below the gum line, a condition known as impaction. For the tooth, impaction increases the chances of infection, cyst formation and gum disease around it.
An impacted wisdom tooth can also cause problems for the adjacent teeth as well. The impacted tooth may begin to press against the roots of other teeth; the resulting pressure can damage the other roots, increasing the risk for disease or future tooth loss. A person may not even know they have this problem since there’s often little to no noticeable pain or symptoms.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the best time to remove a wisdom tooth is when it’s not causing immediate problems. There will be, however, signs found during examination (particularly x-rays or CT scan) that future problems are in the making. By extracting an impacted wisdom tooth at the appropriate time, we can avoid more serious problems in the future and improve oral health.
If you would like more information on wisdom teeth and your oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”
What your dentists in Dothan want you to know about tooth extraction
If you’ve been told you need a tooth extraction, it’s natural to feel a bit nervous. Years ago, teeth were extracted by barbers, usually with no anesthetic other than whiskey. Thankfully, times have changed. If you need a tooth extracted, there is no need to worry because modern dental extractions are a routine procedure with minimal discomfort. Your dentists at Healthwest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL want to help you discover just how easy a dental extraction can be.
When you come in for a dental extraction, your dentists will numb the tooth and surrounding tissue with local anesthetic, so you don’t feel anything. In addition, you can try mild sedation using one or more of these methods:
- Oral sedation--taken in pill form; this form of sedation helps you relax and feel sleepy, but you will still be able to respond.
- Inhaled conscious sedation--using a nitrous oxide and oxygen mixture inhaled through a nosepiece; this sedation helps you relax and can be used in combination with oral sedation for more profound relaxation.
After you are completely numb and relaxed, your dentists will use precise tools to loosen the ligaments and fibers which attach your tooth to the supporting bone. As the ligaments and fibers loosen, your tooth begins to move. Eventually your tooth becomes totally separated from the surrounding tissue and can be easily removed.
Sometimes the reasons for a tooth extraction are obvious, but your dentist may suggest tooth extraction for a tooth that is:
- Traumatically damaged or broken
- Badly decayed or unrestorable
- Painful even after root canal treatment
- Crowded out of position
- Split along the root
- Compromised from periodontal disease and bone loss
You may also need teeth removed for upcoming orthodontic treatment. Wisdom teeth are the most common teeth to be extracted because they are difficult to keep clean and often erupt out of position to be a functioning tooth.
Whatever the reason for your tooth extraction, your dentists in Dothan are committed to providing excellent care before, during and after your appointment. Don’t let tooth extraction make you fearful! Get some help from the experts. Call your dentists at Healthwest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL today and find out more about tooth extraction options to help your smile!
A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”
How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.
The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.
If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.
If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.
If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”