Wisdom teeth, technically known as third molars, are the last four of 32 teeth to erupt in the mouth. When there is inadequate space in the mouth to accommodate this growth, wisdom teeth can essentially become stuck. Not only can the teeth grow crookedly and become misaligned, but they can also become painful and cause damage to other teeth. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to infection and more severe health concerns such as cysts or tumors. Many oral health professionals recommend their removal during the teenage years as a preventative measure.

Dr. John Freeman is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon with extensive experience performing wisdom teeth extraction. He has performed this procedure for thousands of patients of various ages, including adolescents and young adults, in the Katy, TX, area. Wisdom teeth removal is a standard procedure that serves to relieve the pain associated with third molars that do not emerge fully or correctly. The surgery can help to prevent any further issues from developing and is often recommended to protect your future oral health.

If a dentist has referred you or your child for a wisdom tooth evaluation, we invite you to contact the office of Dr. Freeman to schedule an appointment.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Every tooth a person will ever have is present at birth, waiting in the skull structure for its time to emerge. First, the initial set of 20 baby teeth erupts and falls out. Then, 32 permanent adult teeth grow into the mouth. The first set of molars usually arrives around age six, followed by the second set around age 12. Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties, generally between the ages of 17 and 25. They are positioned at the very back of the mouth, at both the top and bottom, near the entrance to the throat. Historically, they have been called “wisdom” teeth because they arrive at a more mature and experienced age.

What to Expect: Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery

Wisdom teeth extraction does not require an overnight stay, so patients can generally return home shortly after treatment. Dr. Freeman will ensure that you are fully aware of all post-operative instructions, and he will provide any medication necessary to help manage swelling and discomfort. Holding a cold compress against your jaw can also help alleviate pain and swelling.

Plan to rest for the remainder of the day after your surgery. You may resume some normal activities the next day, but continue to avoid strenuous activities for at least a week. Avoid excessive spitting, drinking through a straw, eating hard or chewy foods, aggressively brushing your teeth and other activities that could dislodge the blood clot from the socket. Eat only soft food for the first 24 hours, then gradually introduce semisoft foods as tolerated. Do not use tobacco products, as they can delay healing and increase the risk of complications.

Rarely, wisdom teeth removal complications can include:

– Painful dry socket
– Infection in the socket from trapped food or bacteria
– Damage to nearby teeth, bone or nerves

Wisdom tooth extraction is straight-forward for most patients, and complications aren’t common when an experienced oral surgeon performs the procedure.

Wisdom teeth are thought to be evolutionary relics. Though they may have served a purpose to our ancestors, they do not appear to be a necessary tool in modern human life. Some adults never develop wisdom teeth. For others, wisdom teeth erupt normally and cause no problems. However, in many cases, the wisdom teeth do not have adequate space to grow, causing issues that only surgery can effectively address.

Disease – Though disease is a rare consequence of impacted wisdom teeth, cysts and tumors can occur in the areas surrounding the affected tooth.

Tooth crowding – Another theory suggests that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on other teeth, causing them to become misaligned (twisted or crowded).

Do All Wisdom Teeth Require Removal?

In some cases, wisdom teeth may not require removal. If the molars erupt fully, grow in healthy and are positioned to bite correctly with their opposing teeth, extraction may not be necessary. Wisdom teeth that do not have adequate room to grow into the mouth fully or develop normally become impacted or partially impacted. This means they are unable to emerge from the gums, and can become harmful to adjacent teeth or bone. An impacted wisdom tooth may:

– Stay trapped within the jawbone
– Grow at an angle toward the rear of the mouth
– Grow at an angle toward the second molar
– Grow at a right angle, as if it is “laying down” next to the other teeth

Extractions are most often performed on impacted wisdom teeth to manage an active concern such as pain, swelling, decay or infection, or to prevent serious issues from developing in the future.

What Problems Are Linked to Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

If more than one wisdom tooth becomes impacted, a variety of harmful outcomes can occur, including:

Damage to nearby teeth – Impacted wisdom teeth can damage the second molars, which are directly in front of the wisdom teeth. This can cause tooth decay (cavities), periodontal disease (gum disease) and possible bone loss.

Infection – When left untreated, bacteria and food can become trapped under the gum tissue. The resulting infection can cause considerable pain and swelling that make the area difficult to clean, posing even more harm to your oral health.

Disease – Though disease is a rare consequence of impacted wisdom teeth, cysts and tumors can occur in the areas surrounding the affected tooth. Untreated cysts can cause infection and injury to the nearby bone or nerve tissue.

Tooth crowding – Another theory suggests that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on other teeth, causing them to become misaligned (twisted or crowded). This can be especially problematic for someone who has undergone prior orthodontic treatments to straighten their teeth.

Sinus issues — Impacted wisdom teeth on the upper jaw can lead to sinus pressure, pain, headaches and congestion.

wisdom teeth extraction patient
wisdom teeth patient

What Signs Indicate My Wisdom Teeth Should Be Removed?

Extraction may be necessary if you experience wisdom teeth symptoms such as:

– Jaw pain
– Swelling around the jaw
– Tender or bleeding gums
– Red or swollen gums
– Bad breath (halitosis)
– Difficulty opening your mouth

Schedule regular exams with your dentist to monitor your wisdom teeth as they develop. When the time is right for removal, consult an oral surgeon. An oral surgeon has the advanced education and training required to successfully perform the full scope of oral and maxillofacial procedures, including wisdom teeth extraction. Request a consultation with board-certified surgeon Dr. Freeman if you have questions about wisdom teeth coming in and associated complications.

Contact Dr. Freeman’s Clinic in Katy, TX, For Your Wisdom Teeth Extraction Consultation

As a highly qualified board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. John Freeman has helped countless patients achieve better oral health and function. His intricate understanding of facial anatomy and oral health makes him a top choice for patients in and beyond Houston, TX. Dr. Freeman can work with you to effectively resolve or prevent any pain, discomfort or further issues associated with impacted wisdom teeth. Early treatment often provides the best chance of avoiding damage and infection and can help safeguard your future dental health.

If you or your child has been referred for wisdom teeth extraction, we encourage you to call us at (281) 599-9445 for a consultation with Dr. Freeman. He will perform an evaluation, answer any oral surgery-related questions you may have and design a treatment plan that is right for you.

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Call 281-599-9445 today to schedule your in-person consultation with Dr. John P. Freeman and take a step closer to the comfort and smile you deserve!

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