What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, or “third molars,” are 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.

Dr. Bluhm discusses wisdom teeth

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.

What Is the Best Age to Have Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are most commonly 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 will have a consultation with 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. Even so, our oral surgeons have the skill and experience to manage even the most challenging cases.

What Happens on the Day Wisdom Teeth Are Removed?

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

All wisdom teeth removals are 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.

What Happens Afterward – 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 to achieve the maximum benefit.

If you have additional questions about our treatments or insurance coverage, please call Loudoun Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Our team can answer your questions and schedule your wisdom tooth removal in Leesburg or Ashburn, Virginia.