About Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you are considering wisdom teeth removal, it is important to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon to discuss your options and determine which method is suitable for you. Wisdom tooth extraction can be a simple and straightforward procedure, but it is always important to be informed about all of your options before making a decision.

Wisdom Teeth Facts:

  • Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to develop in our mouths.
  • They usually erupt during our late teens or early twenties, which is why they are often referred to as “wisdom teeth.”
  • While wisdom teeth were once thought to be necessary for chewing, we now know that they are not essential. In fact, they can often cause problems such as crowding, infection and decay.

Why Remove Wisdom Teeth?

There are several reasons why wisdom teeth may need to be removed. One of the most common is that they can become impacted – meaning that they fail to erupt fully through the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can be difficult or painful to clean, which increases the risk of decay and other oral health problems such as bad breath, decay and periodontal disease.

Soft tissue vs. Bony impaction

There are two main types of wisdom teeth impactions – soft tissue impaction and bony impaction. 

With soft tissue impaction, the wisdom tooth has emerged from the bone but is partially or fully covered by a flap of gum tissue. This type of wisdom tooth may be easier to remove as it is not impacted significantly by the surrounding bone of the jaw.

In contrast, a bony impacted wisdom tooth results because of insufficient room in the jaw and can be more challenging to remove. This wisdom tooth is typically fully or partially embedded in the jawbone, making it difficult to access and remove. 

The four types of bony impacted teeth are:

  1. Mesial impaction: the wisdom tooth is angled towards the adjacent molar
  2. Horizontal impaction: the wisdom tooth is horizontal within the jaw
  3. Vertical impaction: the wisdom tooth is positioned vertical in the jaw but with insufficient space for eruption
  4. Distal impaction: the wisdom tooth grew at an angle away from the adjacent molar into the jawbone 

Each type of impaction is a result of insufficient space in the jaw. The impacted tooth can cause significant problems with adjacent teeth and the jaw.

Jawbone Damage and Cysts

Another reason to remove wisdom teeth is to prevent damage to the nearby teeth. Wisdom teeth that are not removed can crowd existing teeth, causing them to shift out of place. They can also cause damage to the adjacent teeth. This leads to a range of problems, including jaw pain, bite problems, and difficulty cleaning the teeth.

Wisdom teeth can also cause cysts – a fluid-filled sac that forms around impacted wisdom teeth in the jaw bone. These cysts can cause severe pain and damage the surrounding tissues and bone and may require surgical treatment to remove.

Headaches and Sinus Problems

Wisdom teeth can cause headaches because they can put pressure on the nerves that run through the back of our jaws. This pressure can lead to tension headaches, often felt as a dull ache on both sides of the head.

Wisdom teeth can also cause sinus issues because the teeth sit directly in front of the paranasal sinuses, which are small cavities in our heads that are connected to the nose and are air-filled spaces. When wisdom teeth become impacted, this impaction can press on these sinuses and lead to infections, pain, and other sinus issues.

Is Removal Painful?

Removal of wisdom teeth is typically performed under general anesthesia so it is not painful. The patient is put to sleep through IV medications, dental shots are then given to numb the mouth while asleep so when the patient awakes they are numb and very comfortable. For steps on preparing for general anesthesia, please refer to our instruction page, 8 Things you Need to Do Before General Anesthesia and IV Sedation.

How long does it take?

Most wisdom teeth removal procedures last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the complexity of the extraction and whether or not you choose general anesthesia. After wisdom teeth removal, it is normal to experience some pain, swelling, and bleeding in your wisdom tooth sockets. These symptoms should subside within three to five days, but you may be given prescription pain medication to help you manage any discomfort. Stitches are also common after wisdom teeth removal, and they typically dissolve on their own within a week or two. Your dentist will give you specific instructions on caring for your wisdom teeth sockets and stitches in the postop instructions following your procedure. Read the After Wisdom Tooth Removal Guide for more detailed instructions about post-operative care.

Risks Involved

As with any medical procedure, there is a risk of complications with wisdom teeth removal. Some risks include swelling, infection, and damage to surrounding nerves or tissues. These are rare complications and can be minimized by following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions. Overall, wisdom teeth removal is a very safe and effective procedure.

When We Suggest It

Wisdom teeth extraction is typically recommended for teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 because wisdom teeth roots are not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense making them more easy to remove during this age range.

It can be tempting to put it off, especially if your dental insurance does not cover wisdom teeth removal. However, it is important to consider the potential effects of wisdom teeth that remain impacted. Your oral surgeon can discuss finance options with you so you can avoid adverse effects of wisdom teeth and continue to have a happy and healthy smile.

The Right Choice

If you are experiencing wisdom teeth pain, pressure or infections, it is important to come see one of our outstanding oral surgeons to determine if wisdom teeth removal is necessary. Wisdom teeth removal is a safe and effective procedure that can help prevent future issues and complications. 

At AZ Max, our skilled maxillofacial surgeons are ready to help you with your troublesome wisdom teeth. We offer convenient wisdom teeth removal for patients throughout Arizona with offices in Mesa, North Mesa, South Gilbert, Show Low, and Tempe. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about wisdom teeth removal and determine if the procedure is right for you.