Oral Surgery (Wisdom Teeth)


del mar dentistry Wisdom teeth (the 3rd molars) on the average erupt at or around the age of eighteen, even though they actually start to form in the jaw bone a few years earlier. By the late teens as the mandible (lower jaw) has reached its adult size the wisdom teeth start to work their way out of the bone in an upward-vertical position. Some pain may be associated with the eruption as they break through the gum, but this is relatively minor in non-complicated cases.

Whether wisdom teeth cause your dentition harm or not depends on several factors including the size of your jaw and the way your wisdom teeth grow in. Sometimes wisdom teeth may cause pain or swelling which indicates a problem, but in certain occasions this may not be the case and serious problems may be avoided if a preventive extraction is performed.

It is thus recommended to have your regular six-month visits to the dentist uninterrupted. The most common wisdom teeth complications are discussed below:

Gum disease: When the wisdom tooth breaks through the gum there may be a flap of gum remaining over the partially erupted tooth. This will result in food, plaque and bacterial build-up underneath the gum causing a localized infection in the soft issue. Pain, swelling, bleeding and inflammation may be some of the consequences.

Crowding: An impacted or erupting wisdom tooth can push on the adjacent tooth. This may in turn transfer the force onto the other teeth causing them to move, perhaps ruining the results of expensive orthodontic work with a less-than esthetic appearance as the teeth start to overlap.

Decay: Most wisdom teeth are in the back of the dental arch and they are hard to reach and difficult to clean. Subsequent plaque build-up allows them to fall victim to decay or gum disease.
Poor positioning: The wisdom teeth can be positioned in an array of ways. If they are tilted forwards (mesioangular position) they can push on the root of the adjacent tooth, and over time resorbe the root of that tooth causing its loss. If they tilt backwards they are in a distoangular position. They can even grow toward the cheek, tongue or downwards. If they irritate the surrounding tissue they generally need to be removed.

Cysts: Wisdom teeth that remain in the jaw bone without eruption can in rare occasions form a cyst. The cyst may grow at the expense of the surrounding bone. As the fluid build-up inside the sac encapsulating the crown increases, the pressure on the adjacent bone will cause its resorbtion and a blow to the jaw can easily cause it to break.

After reviewing your medical history, dental examination and taking relevant X-rays the dentist may suggest removal of the wisdom teeth. The extraction is categorized as: simple, tissue impacted, partial bony and full bony extraction. The anesthesia administrated by the dentist may be local in which case just the surrounding tissue around the tooth is numbed, or it may be general where the patient is completely put out. The dentist may in certain instances refer the patient out to an oral surgeon for the removal of the wisdom teeth.

Depending on the difficulty of the extraction, the average healing time is about one week. Pain and swelling are the most common complications, for which the dentist will prescribe pain killers and/or antibiotics as he/she deems necessary. Bed rest, liquids and following the post-operative instructions given are adjuncts to a speedy recovery.


Del Mar Dental Arts Office

12750 Carmel Country Rd
Suite 213
San Diego, CA 92130

(858) 481-8107

Fifth Avenue Dental Arts Office

450 A St. Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 233-3338