With a moniker like wisdom teeth, these late-blooming molars may seem like something you want to keep, but they don’t have anything to do with your IQ. They got that name because they typically come in later in life, during your teens and early 20s.
Two wisdom teeth on top and two on the bottom make up a complete set of 32 adult teeth. They’re the widest and toughest of your molars, but diet changes and the advent of modern eating and cooking have rendered them useless to today’s adults.
But is that enough reason to remove them entirely?
It’s a great question, and one Dr. Keith Bram and our team at Doc Bram in Lisle, Illinois, get all the time. So, we’re diving into the issue of wisdom teeth removal and giving you the information you need to determine if your wisdom teeth have to be removed.
Dentists and oral surgeons remove around 10 million wisdom teeth every year, and for good reason. These teeth tend to become impacted, get entrapped in your jaw, or fail to erupt through the gums completely.
They can wind up crowding your other teeth and shifting them out of alignment — and that's especially frustrating if you’ve spent time and money correcting your teeth with orthodontics.
Impaction is the most common reason we remove your wisdom teeth, but not far behind are these other wisdom teeth-related issues:
Sometimes, removing a wisdom tooth is a preventive measure. Before the molar erupts, the sack of tissue around it can grow into a cyst, which can lead to bone loss and trigger an avalanche of oral health issues.
Most people have all four wisdom teeth removed, and many have at least half removed. But there’s another group of folks who’ve kept their wisdom teeth.
If your wisdom teeth grow in straight, erupt normally, are positioned with enough room that they don’t affect your bite, and you can clean them easily, we don’t have to remove them.
There are two main approaches to wisdom teeth removal: simple extraction and surgical extraction.
We recommend simple extraction if your wisdom teeth have fully erupted and are visible. We usually only have to numb the area before loosening the tooth with a tool called an elevator. Then, we pull the tooth with dental forceps, which look like pliers. To finish, we clean and pack the empty socket so it clots and heals.
Surgery is necessary when your teeth are still below the gum line. Surgical extraction, involves numbing your gums and placing you under intravenous (IV) sedation — you’re conscious and able to respond to simple commands, but you aren’t aware of what we’re doing and don’t feel any discomfort.
Dr. Bram then creates small incisions in your gums to carefully remove the teeth and then stitches the incisions closed.
In both cases, you go home the same day and start recovering. Depending on which type of extraction you had, you can expect to experience some bleeding for a couple of days. Recovery can be uncomfortable, so we may prescribe some prescription painkillers, but you can usually manage with over-the-counter solutions.
It shouldn’t be long before you get back to your normal activities, but to speed healing and ease pain:
If you have more questions about your oral health, we’d love to talk with you. Contact Doc Bram by calling us at 630-963-9280 or use our online booking tool to set up an appointment.