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Wisdom Teeth

The average adult has thirty-two teeth by age eighteen: sixteen teeth on the top and sixteen teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces while the back teeth, or molar teeth, are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing. However, the average mouth has developed to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that can only hold 28 teeth. The last four teeth are your Third Molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”

Why Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are usually the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly, erupt normally with ample space, and when gum tissues are healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to erupt successfully.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many significant problems. When they are partially erupted, the irregular and deepened opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain and even systemic illness. Very often impacted teeth will trap food and bacteria against side or root of erupted teeth and over time slowly cause root decay in adjacent teeth at level where the other tooth can not be repaired easlily repaired. The pressure from the erupting wisdom tooth may potentially, in limited number of cases, move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom tooth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted tooth or teeth usually prevents or resolves these problems. Early removal is often recommended to entirely avoid such future problems from developing in the first place and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure as the patient ages and fully matures.

Dealing With Impacted Teeth

What is an Impacted Tooth?

The average adult has thirty-two teeth by age eighteen: sixteen teeth on the top and sixteen teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces while the back teeth, or molar teeth, are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.

However, the average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your Third Molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.” Often these teeth due to limitations in jaw size become impacted.

A tooth becomes impacted when there is a lack of space in the dental arch and its growth and eruption are preventing by overlying gum, bone or another tooth. A tooth may be partially impacted, which means a portion of it has broken through the gum, or totally impacted and unable to break through the gum at all.

How Serious is an Impacted Tooth?

Impacted and partially impacted teeth can be painful and can lead to an infection of the jaws and mouth. They may also crowd or damage adjacent teeth or roots. More serious problems may occur if the sac surrounding the impacted tooth becomes filled with fluid and enlarges to form cyst. Some cyst if undiagnosed early will destroy or even fracture the jaws.

As the cyst grows it usually will hollow out the jaw and permanently damage adjacent teeth, the surrounding bone and nerves. Rarely, if a cyst is not treated, a tumor may also develop from its walls and a more invasive surgical procedure may be required to remove it. Despite the considerable concern regarding mostly just impacted third molars, a recent study sponsored by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation finds that third molars which have broken through the tissue and erupted into the mouth in a normal upright position may be also be prone to disease as those third molars that remain impacted.

Must the Tooth Come Out if it Hasn’t Caused Any Problems Yet?

Not all problems related to third molars are painful or visible. Damage can occur without you being aware of it. As wisdom teeth grow, their roots become longer, the teeth become more difficult to remove and complications become more likely to occur. Also as we age the recovery from surgery becomes slower and more difficult.

Oral Examination

After completion of an oral examination and review of panoramic and sometimes 3-dimesnional x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Krakowiak can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there may be present or future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid- teenage years by their Dentist, Orthodontist or by an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. A decision on the need for treatment or its timimg can be best made by the Oral & Maxillofacial surgeon.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Krakowiak has the unique set of skills and training in both surgical and advanced anesthetic care. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety, utilizing modern patient monitoring equipment and staff qualified experienced in anesthesia techniques. Your comfort and well-being are always of our outmost concern.