Third molars, commonly referred to as wisdom teeth, are usually the last four of 32 teeth to erupt (surface) in the mouth, generally making their appearance between the ages of 17 to 25. They are located at the back of the mouth (top and bottom), near the entrance to the throat. The term “wisdom” stems from the idea that the molars surface at a time typically associated with increased maturity or “wisdom”.
In most cases, inadequate space in the mouth does not allow the wisdom teeth to erupt properly and become fully functional. When this happens, the tooth can become impacted (stuck) in an undesirable or potentially harmful position. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to infection, damage to other teeth, and possibly cysts or tumors.
There are several types, or degrees, of impaction based on the actual depth of the teeth within the jaw:
Soft Tissue Impaction: The upper portion of the tooth (the crown) has penetrated through the bone, but the gingiva (gum) is covering part or all of the tooth’s crown and has not positioned properly around the tooth. Because it is difficult to keep the area clean, food can become trapped below the gum and cause an infection and/or tooth decay, resulting in pain and swelling.
Partial Bony Impaction: The tooth has partially erupted, but a portion of the crown remains submerged below the gum and surrounding jawbone. Again, because it is difficult to keep the area clean, infection will commonly occur.
Complete Bony Impaction: The tooth is completely encased by jawbone. This will require more complex removal techniques.
Reasons to remove wisdom teeth
While not all wisdom teeth require removal, wisdom teeth extractions are most often performed by the oral surgeon because of an active problem such as pain, swelling, decay or infection, or as a preventative measure to avoid serious problems in the future. If impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is present, and left untreated, a number of potentially harmful outcomes can occur, including:
- Damage to nearby teeth: Second molars (the teeth directly in front of the wisdom teeth) can be adversely affected by impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in tooth decay (cavities), periodontal disease (gum disease) and possible bone loss.
- Disease: Although uncommon, cysts and tumors can occur in the areas surrounding impacted wisdom teeth.
- Infection: Bacteria and food can become trapped under the gum tissue, resulting in an infection. The infection can cause considerable pain and danger.
- Tooth Crowding: It has been theorized that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on other teeth and cause them to become misaligned (crowded or twisted). This theory isn’t universally accepted by all dental professionals, and it has never been validated by any scientific studies.
Wisdom teeth examination
As with any dental procedure, your dentist will want to initially conduct a thorough examination of the wisdom and surrounding teeth. Panoramic or digital x-rays will be taken in order for your dentist to evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and determine if a current problem exists, or the likelihood of any potential future problems. The x-rays can also expose additional risk factors, such as deterioration or decay of nearby teeth. Early evaluation and treatment (typically in the mid-teen years) is recommended in order to identify potential problems and to improve the results for patients requiring wisdom teeth extractions. Only after a thorough examination can your dentist provide you with the best options for your particular case.
What does the removal of wisdom teeth involve?
Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, generally performed under local anesthesia, intravenous (IV) sedation, or general anesthesia by a specially trained dentist or surgeon in an oral surgery suite. The surgery does not require an overnight stay, and you will be released with post-operative instructions and medication (if necessary), to help manage any swelling or discomfort.
Revolutionizing the way dental professionals treat tooth loss, dental implants are regarded as the most life-like option for replacing missing teeth. These prosthetics are permanent, non-removable, and extremely durable. In addition to completely restoring oral function after tooth loss, dental implants are biocompatible.
How closely do dental implants resemble natural teeth?
Made from a titanium rods with a texture similar to a screw, implants are surgically embedded into the jawbone. Due to the unique properties of titanium, the jawbone will naturally fuse around the implant’s post in a few months’ time. This process, clinically referred to as osseointegration, allows the implant to function like a tooth’s roots. Because the titanium post is anchored by surrounding bone mass, patients enjoy stability, and durability when chewing and biting food. Dental implants also lessen the likelihood of bone loss by preventing resorption.
Beyond replacing tooth structure below the gum line, artificial dental crowns are used to fill in the gaps of a smile. Custom made crowns are tooth-shaped prosthetics that are made to the exact measurements a patient needs to support adjacent teeth and a healthy occlusion (bite). Crowns serve as the visible portion of a lost tooth and their surface is used for eating food. They are attached via an abutment to the dental implant. For a natural look, crowns may be made from porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. Some patients, depending which teeth are missing, may benefit from metal crowns in places where more force is applied to the teeth during meals.
In addition to restoring oral function and filling in the gaps of a smile, dental implants and their crowns provide sturdy support to neighboring teeth, which prevents teeth from collapsing into empty tooth sockets.
Are other procedures sometimes necessary when receiving dental implants?
Dental implant procedures for patients may require additional treatments to help rehabilitate the entire oral health system. Before receiving implants, our oral surgeons will evaluate the health of a patient’s gums, existing teeth, and jawbones to determine if the implantation process will be successful. In some cases, patients may require bone grafts before the procedure to ensure that there is enough bone mass to support the implant.
To learn more about your tooth replacement options or request a quote for dental implant cost, contact one of our listed practices today to schedule a consultation with one an oral surgeon.
Before utilizing implants to support prosthetic teeth such as full and partial dentures, patients had limited tooth replacement options that were comfortable and natural looking. Some oral and maxillofacial surgeons now use the All-on-4 Nobel Biocare system for supporting dentures and restoring oral function.
Due to a natural process called jaw atrophy, long time denture wearers’ mouths would change shape over time as the gums receded and jawbone mass was lost to resorption. This would cause dentures to move when eating and speaking because they no longer fit properly. Because of these physiological changes, patients would have to have their dentures relined, use messy adhesives, or receive new dentures to eat and speak comfortably.
Fortunately, All-on-4 dentures eliminate the need for messy adhesives and diminish the need for multiple sets of dentures over time by anchoring dentures in place with dental implants and promoting jawbone health, so that patients can retain as much bone and gingival tissue as possible.
How All-on-4 Dentures Work
The All-on-4 method works by using a series of small dental implants embedded in strategic locations to anchor and support an entire arch of prosthetic teeth. Four dental implants are surgically placed directly into the upper or lower jawbones. After the procedure, the jawbone will fuse around the titanium implant posts ultimately securing them in place. An arch of dentures is then attached to abutments on the implants. This allows patients to eat and speak comfortably without denture movement. An added benefit to implant supported dentures is that implants act similar to the roots of teeth and help prevent jawbone atrophy.
All-on-4 Cost and Affordability
When compared to the costs associated with relining traditional dentures and the need for receiving new sets of dentures as the mouth changes shape, the All-on-4 method is more cost effective. Furthermore, because dental implants support and promote bone health, patients are less likely to require invasive procedures in the future such as bone and gum grafting treatments.
To learn more about your tooth replacement options, check through our directory to find the best and most experienced oral surgeon in your area.