Chicago Wisdom Tooth Extraction
The average adult human mouth is designed to hold around 28 teeth comfortably – however, most adults end up with 32 teeth overall. These additional four teeth are the wisdom teeth (AKA third molars). It is thought among linguists that they are called wisdom teeth because they appear at an age when a person matures into adulthood and is “wiser” than when other teeth have erupted. The third molars usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25.
Because human jaws have become smaller throughout evolutionary history, when wisdom teeth form they often become impacted, or blocked, by the other teeth around them. Also, if the tooth partially erupts, food can get trapped in the gum tissue surrounding it, which can lead to bacteria growth and, possibly, a serious infection. Therefore, Dr. Katabi and Dr. Smythe recommend that patients in their mid-teenage years undergo an evaluation at Armitage Oral Surgery.
Drs. Katabi and Smythe strongly recommend that patients remove wisdom teeth when they are young adults, in order to “prevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing.” People who have oral surgery after the age of 35 have higher risks for complications, harder surgeries, and longer healing times than those who get them removed in their late teens or early 20’s. The best time to get the wisdom teeth out is when the roots are about two-thirds formed, which is generally between the ages of 15 to 18.
For our adult patients, we take extra care to determine whether to recommend surgery or to just continue observation until an intervention is absolutely necessary. In addition, when we treat adult patients, we utilize special expertise and techniques and on occasions, regenerative materials to promote optimal healing that can be just as good as a young adult or teenager.
We see adult and teenage patients from every neighborhood in Chicago and the surrounding greater Chicago area. We will tailor your treatment to your needs and wants.
Why do my wisdom teeth need to be removed?
While few people develop wisdom teeth that function just as well as every other tooth in the mouth, most patients will experience malalignment or impaction of the wisdom teeth. Impaction simply means, the wisdom tooth is blocked and stuck in a bad position due to lack of space. The impaction may be partial or complete and even sometimes just soft tissue impaction. An exam by Dr. Katabi or Dr. Smythe plus a diagnostic x-ray or CT would reveal any potential problem with the position of your wisdom teeth.
Impacted and malaligned wisdom teeth create an area that is impossible to clean and bacteria starts to grow. This will eventually result in an unhealthy condition where pain, infection, cavities and damage to adjacent teeth and bone can ensue. Wisdom teeth that do not erupt but remain tucked away can also lead to oral problems, such as crowding or displacement of permanent teeth. On very rare occasions, a cyst (fluid filled sac) can form in the soft tissue surrounding the impacted wisdom tooth. These cysts can lead to bone destruction, jaw expansion, or damage to the surrounding teeth. Even more uncommonly, tumors can develop in the cysts, which can lead to the jaw spontaneously breaking if the tumor or cyst grows too much.
The Wisdom Tooth Extraction Process
At Armitage Oral Surgery, we promote a comfortable and compassionate office space where patients can receive the care they need while remaining at ease. For your wisdom tooth extraction procedure, we understand that most people would prefer to be at least somewhat unaware of the process, which is why soothing anesthesia and sedation options are available. Our state-of-the-art technology helps Dr. Katabi and Dr. Smythe provide a precise experience that minimizes discomfort. Please click here to read the pre-operative instructions.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Recovery
Click here to review our post-operative instructions. The day of the surgery, we will review these instructions with you in details and answer any questions you may have. Your body will need time to heal following your treatment, and we ask that you give it the time it needs before resuming your usual activities. We want your recovery to proceed as smoothly as possible, and we’re here to answer any questions or concerns you may have as well. Most patients are well on the road to recovery in three to five days on average.
Other common questions associated with wisdom tooth extraction include:
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
Anthropologists believe wisdom teeth, or the third set of molars, were the evolutionary answer to our ancestor’s early diet of coarse, rough food – like leaves, roots, nuts and meats – which required more chewing power and resulted in excessive wear of the teeth. The modern diet with its softer foods, along with marvels of modern technologies such as forks, spoons and knives, has made the need for wisdom teeth nonexistent. As a result, evolutionary biologists now classify wisdom teeth as vestigial organs, or body parts that have become functionless due to evolution.
Some people never get wisdom teeth, but for those who do, the number may be anywhere from one to four – and, on very rare occasions, more than four, according to a study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association. Scientific literature has yet to be able to explain why the number of teeth per individual varies, but for those who do get these extraneous, or supernumerary, teeth, it can lead to all sorts of problems.
Why do wisdom teeth wait to erupt long after the tooth fairy has stopped leaving change under your pillow?
Tooth development, from baby primary teeth to permanent teeth, takes place in an organized fashion, over a course of years, with the first molar erupting around the age of six and the second molar erupting around the age of 12. Wisdom teeth, which begin forming around your tenth birthday, are the last set of molars on the tooth-development timeline, so they usually don’t erupt until you are between the ages of 17 and 25. Because this is the age that people are said to become wiser, the set of third molars has been nicknamed “wisdom teeth.”
Does everyone have to get their wisdom teeth removed?
There are patients that develop wisdom teeth that function just as well as every other tooth in the mouth, and as a result they do not need to have them removed. But no one can predict when third molar complications will occur, and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that about 85 percent of wisdom teeth will eventually need to be removed.
If you do have wisdom teeth that you are thinking of having taken out, Dr. Katabi and Smythe strongly recommends that patients remove wisdom teeth when they are young adults, in order to “prevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing.” People who have oral surgery after the age of 35 have higher risks for complications, harder surgeries, and longer healing times than those who get them removed in their late teens or early 20’s. The best time to have them removed is when the roots are about two-thirds formed, which is generally between the ages of 15 to 18.
Why is it so important to have my wisdom teeth removed as a teenager/young adult instead of later in life?
As your wisdom teeth develop, their roots become longer and your jawbone becomes more and more dense. This can lead to an extended recovery period and a higher chance of complications when the patient is in their 30’s or 40’s. Younger patients will be able to heal faster and at a more predictable rate from wisdom tooth extraction, and by addressing the issue early on, our team can prevent pain and other concerns before they have the chance to develop.
Why should an oral surgeon remove my wisdom teeth instead of my general dentist?
While wisdom tooth removal can be simple enough for a general dentist to personally handle, an impacted wisdom tooth can be more complicated and requires more specialized care to reduce potential complications and promote optimal healing. In these situations, only experienced surgeons like Dr. Katabi and Dr. Smythe can provide patients with the expert touch and peace of mind they need regarding their procedure and its success. In addition, they can provide you with anesthesia options that would significantly improve your experience.
Should I have all of my wisdom teeth taken out at once?
Ultimately, this is the patient’s decision and Dr. Katabi and Dr. Smythe will be happy to work with you to determine what course of action fits your personal needs and oral health. Because of the involved nature of wisdom tooth extraction and the recovery period involved, many people prefer having all of their wisdom teeth removed at once so that the procedure is simplified down to a single event especially if they are undergoing sedation or general anesthesia.
What type of anesthesia should I choose?
Drs. Katabi and Smythe will recommend the most appropriate option for your particular situation after your initial consultation. They carefully consider many factors that play a role in the type of anesthesia they may recommend. These factor include the number of teeth, position of the teeth, level of impaction, complexity of the procedure, anatomy such as size of the mouth and jaws, health of the TMJ and the ability to open the mouth, level of anxiety, medical health and many more. Please click here to see anesthesia options.