Q&A Topic: Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Michael Graffeo, DDS
Q: What are wisdom teeth?
A: Technically speaking, wisdom teeth are considered “third molars.” They are generally the last teeth to erupt, and they typically do so during the teenage years. All told, most people usually have four wisdom teeth. Under normal conditions, that would bring the total number of teeth in your mouth to 32.
Q: Why do so many people need to have their wisdom teeth out?
A: Unfortunately, many people’s mouths can only safely fit 28 teeth. The wisdom teeth get in the way. Just like adding skyscrapers to an already crowded urban landscape would create chaos, adding extra teeth to an already full mouth can create problems in your mouth. They can grow sideways, and they may get trapped under adjacent teeth. This abnormal growth can also set the stage for bacterial growth and infection. In advanced cases, cysts can form near the impacted wisdom teeth; these can destroy the teeth, as well as the jawbone itself.
Q: Why should you consider extracting your wisdom teeth prophylactically?
A: Getting your wisdom teeth out may sound like an intense, challenging medical process. Why shouldn’t you wait to have this surgery until it’s absolutely necessary?
Few people relish the prospect of elective medical procedures. But problematic wisdom teeth can create a surprisingly diverse slate of health problems, including infection, bone loss, formation of cysts, and damage to the teeth in front of the wisdom teeth. In addition, as you age, your risk for postoperative complications increases. That’s why we recommend that people get the surgery performed prior to the age of 25, if possible. It’s also helpful to have all four extracted at the same time, because you then only have one surgery and one recovery.
Q: What to expect during a consultation?
A: Patients will undergo a thorough evaluation, which will include a clinical examination and radiographic studies. In certain cases, patients may need a Cone Beam CT Scan to evaluate the proximity of the wisdom teeth to vital structures. We also offer animated presentations to better clarify the wisdom tooth extraction pre, intra and post-operative processes. We offer a variety of anesthesia modalities for extraction of wisdom teeth, which will be reviewed prior to the surgical procedure.
Q: What happens during the wisdom teeth removal process?
A: Extracting wisdom teeth is an outpatient procedure that is typically performed with intravenous sedation by a Board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon. All of our patients are monitored with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the safest and most comfortable experience possible.
Q: What happens after the surgery?
A: You will be provided with a postoperative kit, which includes instructions for home care as well as prescriptions. Some postoperative bleeding is normal, but that can usually be controlled by gauze and pressure. A one-week postoperative appointment will be scheduled on the day of your surgery.
Dr. Graffeo is a Board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a member, fellow, and Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He has lectured on various topics, including full-scope oral and maxillofacial surgery with a concentration in reconstruction, dental implantology, bone grafting, and noninvasive cosmetic surgery.
Westchester Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery & Implantology
2975 Westchester Avenue, Suite G02
Purchase, NY 10577