Wisdom teeth, also known as 3rd molars, are types of molars found in the very back of your mouth. These teeth usually appear in late teens or early twenties but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. The most common type of impacted wisdom tooth is "mesial", meaning that the tooth is angled forward toward the front of your mouth.
When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, you may develop gum tenderness, infection, swelling, and severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, gum disease, and can cause neighboring molars to decay.
Each patient's situation is unique. We will usually take a panoramic X-ray to determine whether your wisdom teeth will need to be removed. If the removal of your wisdom teeth becomes necessary Dr. Rockwell has 20+ years of experience in these types of procedures. He can expertly handle any type of extraction from simple to the most complex easily and quickly.
Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the teeth's roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier, as well as making the recovery time much shorter.
To remove a wisdom tooth, Dr. Rockwell will first numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Additional medication may be used to safely sedate you during the extraction if you are feeling nervous about the procedure. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and imbedded in your jaw bone, a portion of the covering bone may need to be removed to extract the tooth. To minimize the amount of bone that is removed with the tooth, Dr. Rockwell will often "section" your wisdom tooth so that each piece can be removed through a small opening in the bone.
Once your wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Healing time varies depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction. We will let you know what to expect and will provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process. As always you can reach Dr. Rockwell anytime with any post-operative concerns.