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Wisdom Teeth 101

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, May 10, 2016 @ 11:05 AM

 

 

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While few people likely look forward to having their wisdom teeth removed, it's become a rite of passage of sorts for people in their late teens and early twenties. Still, there are a lot of misconceptions about what exactly wisdom teeth are, who needs to have them removed, and why they need to be removed. Let's attempt to clear up some of the confusion below.

What are wisdom teeth?

Although their name sounds somewhat mysterious, wisdom teeth are actually the third set of molars. Their name derives from the fact that they come in so late-- typically in the late teenage years or even in the early twenties. Thus, people are thought to be "wiser" by the time this third-- and final-- set of molars arrive.

Is removal really necessary?

Wisdom teeth removal is not always necessary. In fact, these third molars can be beneficial if they're healthy and properly aligned. However, removal is quite common due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Misalignment. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth frequently come in at odd angles, damaging nearby teeth and potentially even damaging nerves.
  • Impacted teeth. Wisdom teeth are also commonly impacted, or embedded in the gums or jawbone. Impacted teeth can damage adjacent healthy teeth and can grow cysts.  Impacted teeth that are partially exposed through the gum often become infected and painful.
  • Limited space. Although a couple of extra teeth may seem like no big deal, some people simply don't have room in their mouths for wisdom teeth.

What's the removal procedure like?

Your oral surgeon will usually remove impacted wisdom teeth under general anesthesia so that you don't experience any pain. How complex the surgery is depends on how many wisdom teeth you need to have removed and whether or not they're impacted. When wisdom teeth are impacted, an incision must be made into the gums in order to reach the teeth. When the teeth have already erupted-- either partially or fully-- removal is sometimes relatively simple.

What if I Wait Till I’m Older?

If third molars should be removed, then generally the younger you are the easier it is.  Complications with healing go up significantly with age.

What can I expect during recovery?

During the recovery period, you should expect some swelling, which can minimized with the use of ice packs. You should also take any medication prescribed to you by your oral surgeon as directed. While your mouth recovers, stick to soft foods and make sure to stay hydrated. Stay away from hard or crunchy foods and avoid smoking during recovery.

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

717-334-0555  GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Wisdom Teeth

Gettysburg Dentist and Dental Emergencies

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, May 3, 2016 @ 10:05 AM

 

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Dental emergencies are urgent dental concerns that need to be taken care of immediately. Waiting a few weeks-- or even a few days-- can mean the difference between saving a tooth and losing a tooth. But what exactly is considered a dental emergency? Let's consider four examples below:

Missing filling. Sometimes, fillings-- and particularly old fillings-- fall out and need to be replaced. Most of the time they fall out for a reason.  Decay has occurred and the filling has failed.  When this happens, it's a good idea to contact your dental office immediately and let them know you lost a filling. Your dentist will usually be able to get you in right away to at least put something temporary on the tooth to prevent further damage and bacteria infiltration.

Lost crown. Occasionally, dental crowns can fall out. If possible, save the dislodged crown and bring it with you to your dentist's office. Often the old crown can be easily re-cemented.  But don’t wait too long!  Even a few days without the crown in place can mean the old crown no longer fitting properly. 

Dislodged tooth. If your tooth becomes dislodged-- either partially or completely-- contact your dental office and tell them you need to be seen immediately. If the tooth is replaced within an hour of becoming dislodged, it has the best chance of surviving.

Chipped tooth. It's not uncommon to chip or break a tooth; this frequently happens due to sports-related injuries or even chewing on hard candy. If possible, save all of the pieces of the damaged tooth and contact your dentist immediately.  The sooner a dentist can at least place something temporary on the broken tooth the better.   In the meantime, if the tooth chipped to trauma, try to minimize swelling by using an ice pack on the face immediately outside of the affected area.

Dental Infections. Swelling of the jaw or face due to a dental infection should never be taken lightly.  If left untreated it could potentially land you in the hospital.  If you cannot be seen immediately by a dentist it may be wise to go to an emergency room for evaluation.

 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

717-334-0555        GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

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