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Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, form during the mid to late teen years. They usually do not have room to come in and they become impacted or blocked by other teeth. They have a tendency to cause infections, pain, crowding, or damage to other teeth so they are generally removed.

As an Oral Surgeon, Dr. Scott Bulloch has specialty training in anesthesia for your comfort and safety during wisdom tooth extraction.

Do all wisdom teeth need to be removed?

No, not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. Wisdom teeth that come in completely, are functional, and healthy do not need to be removed.

Impacted wisdom teeth, those that are blocked from coming in, are associated with many significant problems and should be removed. They often cause recurrent infections, as well as crowding or damage to other teeth. They can develop cysts around them and, in rare cases, tumors.

Wisdom teeth that have partially or mostly come in, but cannot be adequately cleaned below the gum tissue should also be removed.

Several long term studies have shown that because wisdom teeth are more difficult to clean, they are more prone to gum disease which can spread to the other teeth. These studies show that people who keep their wisdom teeth are more likely to develop gum disease than those who have them removed.

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What is the best age to have wisdom teeth removed?

Mid to late teens (age 14 to 18) is the best time to have wisdom teeth removed. At this age, the roots have not finished forming and the teeth can be removed for better healing.

If extraction is delayed and the roots finish forming, the bone also becomes denser. This makes the procedure considerably more difficult and leads to significantly delayed healing.

Don’t Delay Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom teeth roots often form close to or around the nerve to the lower lip which may pose a risk of temporary and, rarely, permanent numbness to the lip.

As they come in, wisdom teeth become contaminated with bacteria from the mouth and become inflamed. This leads to a higher incidence of infection and a more painful and delayed healing course. It is easiest to remove all of the wisdom teeth at one time before they become inflamed or infected.

What can I expect for recovery?

When teenagers’ wisdom teeth are removed, the recovery is fast and uneventful. In other cases, recovery varies from person to person. Most patients feel normal in five to seven days. Any discomfort is usually well controlled with medications. Intravenous medicine during surgery will minimize swelling, although swelling varies from patient to patient.

Patients should avoid strenuous activity for three to five days in order to facilitate healing and minimize swelling. Most patients are able to eat normal soft foods a few hours after the surgery. They should avoid anything hard or crunchy, especially popcorn and peanuts until healing is complete.

The healing time is significantly lengthened for older patients if the wisdom teeth are impacted.

Wisdom Teeth Anesthesia Options

The best wisdom teeth removal is one you can sleep through. It makes the procedure more comfortable and because of long acting pain medications and medications to block swelling, the recovery is more comfortable.

Dr. Bulloch can often remove wisdom teeth with a local anesthetic. However, when bone is involved, it is more comfortable for the patient to go to sleep.

Anesthesia has an extremely low risk of complications. General anesthesia is very safe and most people, even those with significant health issues, are able to undergo anesthesia without any complications.

Why an Oral Surgeon for Wisdom Teeth Removal

As an Oral Surgeon, Dr. Bulloch has additional training in wisdom teeth removal and the safe use of anesthesia to make the experience as pleasant and safe as possible.

In addition to completing their Dental School degrees, oral surgeons go through four more years of residency training. Dr. Bulloch also completed an extra year of anesthesia training. This extensive training makes an oral surgeon the most highly skilled and qualified to remove your wisdom teeth.

Oral surgeons are the only dental practitioners with the training and license for level four anesthesia, which means you are asleep through the procedure. Dentists who do IV anesthesia do not have the training or the license to put patients to sleep. Level 3 anesthesia, practiced by some dentists, requires very little training, and only allows the patient to be relaxed while still awake. This is called conscious sedation.

Is it more expensive to go to an oral surgeon?

In most cases, the fees charged by an oral surgeon are very close to those charged by a general dentist and follow the same insurance trends for the area.

“Wisdom Teeth Specialists” are general dentists with no specialty training that advertise wisdom teeth at one price for all patients. This one-size-fits-all approach charges patients who need a simple procedure a higher than customary price.

Oral surgeons are the only dental practitioners with the training and license for level four anesthesia, which means you are asleep through the procedure. Dentists who do IV anesthesia do not have the training or the license to put patients to sleep. Level 3 anesthesia, practiced by some dentists, requires very little training, and only allows the patient to be relaxed while still awake. This is called conscious sedation.