What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, or “third molars,” are often the last teeth to develop in the mouth. Located in the very back of your mouth, next to your second (or twelve-year) molars, wisdom teeth usually finish developing between the ages of 15 and 20. This is a time that has traditionally (and theoretically) been associated with the onset of maturity and wisdom, hence “wisdom” teeth.

What is an Impacted Tooth?

Because the wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop, many people do not have enough room in their mouths for all of their natural teeth to erupt adequately and become fully functional. When this occurs, the teeth are said to be impacted, which indicates their inability to erupt into a functional and properly aligned position.

There are several types of tooth impactions: soft tissue, partial bony, and complete bony. The type of classification given to the impaction is based on the relationship of the wisdom tooth to its surrounding bone and gum tissue.

Why Should I Have Impacted Teeth Removed?

If you do not have adequate room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to erupt properly and they become impacted, a number of problems may arise:

  • Infection
  • Damage to the jawbone by cyst formation
  • Damage to the adjacent teeth
  • Crowding of the other teeth
  • Acceleration of gum disease

These problems tend to occur with increasing frequency after the age of 30. Unless you have an active problem, however, the primary reason for wisdom teeth removal is to prevent long-term dental problems.

Dr. BluhmWhat is the Best Age to Have Wisdom Teeth Removed?

In some patients, it can be early as 11 or 12 years old, but most commonly the wisdom teeth are removed when patients are in their mid-teenage years to their early twenties. Younger patients tend to heal faster, more predictably, and have fewer complications following the procedure than older patients.

Before you decide on wisdom tooth removal, you need to have a consultation with your general or family dentist or one of our oral and maxillofacial surgeons. A special X-ray of your mouth and jaws will be necessary to help determine if and how much room is available for your wisdom teeth to erupt, the configuration of the roots, and location of any vital anatomic structures.

What if I Don’t Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed in My Teenage Years?

It is possible that if you do not have your impacted wisdom teeth removed in your teenage years or your early twenties, more extensive problems may arise such as damage to or shifting of the adjacent teeth. If impacted wisdom teeth need to be removed while you are in your thirties, forties, or beyond, it is usually more difficult for you because there is a higher complication rate and post-operative care can be prolonged. Treating these complications is often more difficult and less predictable with an older patient than with a younger patient. If you do not have your impacted wisdom teeth removed in your teenage years or your early twenties and they are completely impacted in the bone, our doctors may advise to wait until a localized problem (such as formation of a cyst or localized bone loss and gum disease) develops and then treat only the affected area.

What Happens on the Day Wisdom Teeth are Removed?

On the day of your surgery, plan on being in the office for an hour to an hour and a half, unless told otherwise by one of our team members.

All wisdom teeth removal is performed under the appropriately chosen anesthesia for your comfort. Dr. Bluhm, Dr. Dorsch, and Dr. Vandervort have training and experience in a variety of anesthetic options and the best option for you will be discussed during your consultation. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety, and our highly-trained and experienced staff uses modern monitoring equipment to ensure you remain safe. Regardless of the type of anesthesia used for your procedure, we recommend spending the rest of the day at home, with a responsible adult available throughout the day to help you should you need help. Prior to your discharge, you will be given both verbal and written post-operative instructions.

Click here for post-operative instructions after wisdom teeth removal.

What Happens Afterwards – What Will I Feel Like?

Each person’s reaction to oral surgery varies, as does their level of discomfort. Following the procedure, you can expect two to four days of discomfort. For several days after the surgery, facial swelling is not uncommon. You may also experience some facial bruising, stiffness of your jaw muscles, a small amount of oozing from the extraction sites, and chafing around the corners of your lips. Most patients feel like they are over the worst of it in three to five days.

What Does It Cost – And Does Insurance Cover It?

Because there are different types of impacted wisdom teeth, we will not have a realistic estimate of what our services will cost until your X-rays have been reviewed and an anesthetic option suited to your needs has been determined. In addition, every insurance company has a different policy regarding the extent of coverage for any given surgical procedure. That being said, our office patient care coordinators will be happy to help you work with your insurance company and achieve the maximum benefit.

What if I Have Questions Before Surgery?

If you have additional questions, please call Loudoun Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Leesburg or Ashburn to speak to one of our knowledgeable and friendly patient care coordinators.