Wisdom Teeth Removal in Northern Virginia
Wisdom teeth (third molars) begin to mature and emerge in the mid-teen years for most people. Often there is inadequate space for these teeth and they may only partially emerge, or remain completely impacted in an improper position under the gum. Dentists usually recommend removal of these teeth at the first sign of infection and pathology, or before they cause damage to adjacent teeth and supporting bone.
On occasions when wisdom teeth fully erupt in proper alignment they may not require removal. However, removal may be suggested by your dentist since these teeth often become decayed or develop gum problems. It should be pointed out that other teeth such as bicuspids and canines may also remain impacted. These teeth can be surgically exposed by our doctors in conjunction with orthodontic treatment, or removed when deemed advisable.
Our oral surgeons can remove wisdom teeth in the comfort of our own offices in Annandale, Manassas, and Woodbridge, VA. Call for an appointment today.
What are “wisdom teeth”?
The term refers to certain molars, the chewing teeth located furthest back in the mouth. Most people have first, second and third molars. A person’s third molars are their wisdom teeth, and these teeth typically “erupt” (or emerge from the gums) behind the second molars during a person’s late teens or early twenties. Often, they’re “impacted,” or trapped in the jawbone and gums, usually due to lack of room for them in the mouth. If wisdom teeth do erupt, they may be hard to clean, increasing the chance of decay or infection of surrounding gum tissue.
When do wisdom teeth need to be removed?
Your dentist can best answer this question for you, based a review of your dental history, an examination of your teeth, and x-rays. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a number of problems, including infections in the gum surrounding the tooth, other teeth becoming crooked or damaged, and decay in either the wisdom tooth or the tooth next to it. In some cases, cysts can form around a wisdom tooth if it does not come into the mouth properly. If your evaluation uncovers a problem with your wisdom teeth, your dentist may recommend surgery to remove them to protect you from problems that could develop in the future.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
This term refers to a wisdom tooth that has not fully emerged (or “erupted”) through the gum into its expected position. This situation may occur when there is not room enough in the jaw for the tooth, or when there is a problem with the angle at which the tooth is erupting.
What does the treatment involve?
When a wisdom tooth has not fully grown into the mouth, it is often necessary to make a cut in the gum over the tooth. Occasionally, it may also be necessary to remove some bone surrounding the tooth, or cut the tooth into pieces to allow it to be removed. Once the tooth has been removed, we put the gum back into place with stitches.
What type of anesthetic is used?
During surgery, one or more of the following may be used to control pain and anxiety: local anesthetic, nitrous oxide-oxygen, sedation, and general anesthesia. You can take a look at our Anesthesia FAQs for more information on each type of anesthetic.
Is there much pain or swelling after the removal of wisdom teeth?
Generally, some discomfort and swelling is common during the two or three days following surgery. It is normal for your cheek to swell, and you may use an ice pack during the first 48 to 72 hours to limit the swelling. You may also feel that your jaw is stiff, and may need to eat only soft foods for a week or so. If it is likely to be sore, we will prescribe painkillers for you. It is also possible that you could experience some discoloration of the skin of your face that should disappear in a few days.
Is there anything else I need to do after the extractions?
Plan to rest for the remainder of the day following your surgery. Over the next few days, you may still be drowsy from the pain medication, other drugs, or anesthetic, so don’t plan on driving, drinking alcohol, or operating any kind of machinery. To control excessive bleeding at the surgery site, we may instruct you to bite down on a piece of gauze, applying constant, direct pressure. For the first two days following surgery, you should eat only soft foods, and drink fluids (but avoid drinking fluids with a straw). It is also recommended that you avoid smoking and over-exertion.
What are the possible problems?
There may be a little bleeding at the time of the removal; however, this usually stops quickly and is unlikely to cause a problem after the wound is stitched. If the extraction site begins to bleed again after you get home, you can usually stop it by applying pressure on the area for at least 10 minutes with a rolled-up handkerchief or cotton swab. If the bleeding does not stop, please contact us. If the mouth is kept clean following surgery, infection is uncommon. Be on the lookout for such symptoms as fever, abnormal swelling and pain, salty or prolonged bad taste, and formation of pus. If any of these occur, contact us immediately, and we will prescribe appropriate antibiotics to treat the problem.
Do I need to schedule additional follow-up visits?
You may need to see us or your dentist following surgery for the removal or stitches, or to make sure that the surgery site is healing properly.