Wisdom Teeth

Not everyone needs to get their wisdom teeth removed but if they are causing crowding of the other teeth or swelling and inflammation they should be extracted or surgically removed.

What are wisdom teeth and when do they typically come in? Do some people not have them at all?

Dr. John Vitale: Wisdom teeth are third molars. Adults have first, second and third molars. They generally come in around the age of 16 upwards. Some people do not have them, genetically, they’re missing.

What are some signs that the wisdom teeth are impacted and what other problems can wisdom teeth cause?

Dr. John Vitale: One of the major signs that wisdom teeth are impacted, are swelling in the particular areas, whether they be the lower back portion of the mouth or the upper back portion of the mouth. Generally, with some inflammation, maybe sometimes even with a fever. And wisdom teeth can cause a multitude of problems besides pain and infection. They could also cause crowding of your other teeth.

If wisdom teeth need to be pulled, is it a recommended to pull them all at the same time?

Dr. John Vitale: Well oral surgeons recommend that, I do not. I prefer pulling one side at a time so that the person would be able to eat on the other side for at least a couple of weeks before the other side gets attended to. But oral surgeons, when they put a person under general anesthesia, prefer to pull all four out at the same time.

What steps are involved in the wisdom tooth extraction process?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, there are a multitude of steps from local anesthetic to general anesthetic. Basically, if it’s an impacted wisdom tooth extraction, it’s a surgical process where we have to reflect the tissue back, sometimes remove some of the external bone surrounding the wisdom tooth. And depending on the position or location of the tooth, sometimes we have to sever or break the tooth and take it out in pieces or take it out all at once. We place sutures and put the patient on antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory or pain medication.

If wisdom teeth come in and are not causing any problems in the mouth, is it best to leave them or could they potentially cause problems in the future?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, my philosophy is if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. So yes, I like to leave them in the mouth unless they’re creating a problem. If they create a problem, we’re always there and available to attend to the source of the problem. But generally speaking, if you have no problems with your teeth, keep them.

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