The human mouth typically needs only 28 teeth. With the four rear molars, commonly called wisdom teeth, a human has 32 teeth. Most people find that they don’t have room for the four extra teeth. Many experience major problems related their wisdom teeth. For this reason, many parents opt to have their children’s wisdom teeth removed before the molars can cause problems.
If you or your child needs your wisdom teeth removed, you can get the expert help you need from Gateway Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons of St. Louis.
ARE MY WISDOM TEETH A PROBLEM?
If your wisdom teeth have space to grow straight and strong, you may not have a problem. Unfortunately, most people are not so lucky. Wisdom teeth, when allowed to fully emerge, can ruin years of orthodontic work or destroy the natural alignment of straight teeth.
In many cases, wisdom teeth can’t enter properly. They grow in sideways. They get trapped beneath the gum. They emerge but only slightly. These impacted teeth can’t find a clear path. This leaves openings where bacteria grows and infection follows. Patients will experience stiffness, pain, swelling and illness. In the worst cases, the gums around the impact tooth may grow tumors or cysts. This destroys surrounding healthy teeth and the vulnerable jawbone.
WHEN SHOULD MY (or MY CHILD’S) WISDOM TEETH BE REMOVED?
Early removal comes with the least risk to the mouth and jaw. It will help you or your child avoid all of the problems that wisdom teeth can cause. It will help ensure that straight teeth stay straight. If you or your child are already experiencing problems related to wisdom teeth, it is important to act quickly. Generally a surgical removal eliminates the pain and problems associated with impacted teeth.
CAN I BE SURE THAT REMOVAL IS NEEDED?
As with all of our procedures, our surgeons start with a consultation. We will perform an oral examination and look carefully at your X-rays. Often we are acting on a referral from your regular dentist or orthodontist. Our doctors will use their advanced expertise to determine current problems and to predict future ones. The choice is always yours, but we will make recommendations based on medical facts related to your specific situation.
DOES REMOVAL REQUIRE ANESTHESIA?
In some cases, it only takes a local anesthesia or laughing gas to permit the surgeon to remove the teeth. In others, we will offer general anesthesia. Our doctors have the training, license and experience for anesthesia administration.
HOW DO I CARE FOR MY MOUTH AFTER SURGERY?
After the teeth are removed, the gums will be sutured. The staff will provide gauze that must be kept in place until the bleeding stops. A prescription for antibiotics will help prevent an infection. Pain medication can help with your post-operative symptoms. A liquid diet will be advised for a short period of time. Other postoperative care will be discussed at the time of your surgery, and a follow-up appointment will occur one week later.