A wisdom tooth is a molar that develops in the back of the mouth. These large teeth usually make an appearance between the ages of 17 and 25, and they are the last dental milestone that a person will go through. The reason why they are called wisdom teeth is because the time at which they develop is during the phase of maturity, when one is more wise.
In rare cases, a wisdom tooth may erupt through the gums in a clear path that does not disrupt the health or function of other teeth. In most cases, however, wisdom teeth do not properly erupt. Some wisdom teeth partially erupt while others remain impacted, or trapped beneath the gums. When a tooth does not erupt properly, it can trap cavity-causing bacteria, push against other teeth, and cause pain or swelling.
Wisdom teeth should be extracted as soon as possible. For most patients, this is done when the teeth first appear. When they are not fully developed, they are easier to remove and recovery is smoother. While it is recommended to have wisdom teeth removed after they begin to develop, you can undergo wisdom tooth extraction at any age.
Some patients do not have noticeable issues with their wisdom teeth and do not have them removed right away. Although they do not always cause pain, these molars can still cause issues below the surface. Wisdom tooth roots can grow into nerves or other roots, and the teeth can push against adjacent molars. As you age, wisdom teeth become more firmly embedded in the jaw bone, which can lead to more complex surgery to have them removed.
To avoid potential oral health problems, it is recommended to have your wisdom teeth extracted by an oral surgeon as soon as possible.
When a wisdom tooth has erupted through the gums, extracting it will often not require surgery. Removing it is similar to a simple tooth extraction. Some general dentists perform simple tooth extractions themselves, but oral surgeons are the most qualified dental experts to extract wisdom teeth.
Oral surgeons complete an additional 4 to 6 years of training after dental school. Here, they learn to perform a variety of surgical procedures and administer all types of anesthesia. Many general dentists offer local anesthesia or laughing gas, while an oral surgeon is qualified to administer these options plus IV sedation and general anesthesia.
A dentist is often the first person to notice the presence of wisdom teeth, then refers the patient to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for evaluation. An oral surgeon will then create a surgical plan and extract the teeth.
Dr. Ioppolo regularly extracts wisdom teeth for both teens and adults at our office. If you or your child have third molars or would like to learn about wisdom teeth removal in Lubbock, TX, we invite you to contact Hill & Ioppolo Oral & Dental Implant Surgery of Lubbock.