Wisdom Teeth

Patient Education Resource

Chicago Dental Smiles serves these neighborhoods from our downtown Chicago dentist office: The Loop, Streeterville, River North, Near West Loop, Near South Loop, Lakeshore East, Gold Coast, Old Town and Lincoln Park.

WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?

Your downtown Chicago dentist, Mohit Joshi, DDS

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that erupt in the back corners of the upper and lower normal adult mouth. Unfortunately, most people experience problems from wisdom teeth; in most cases, this is because the teeth erupt too close to existing permanent teeth, causing crowding, improper bites, and other problems.

If wisdom teeth are causing a problem, this could mean that they are impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can be extremely painful, as well as harmful to your oral health. Symptoms are easy to spot: pain, inflammation, and some kinds of infections.

Many people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted to avoid future serious problems. In general, the lack of the four wisdom teeth does not hamper one’s ability to properly bite down, speak or eat.

HOW ARE WISDOM TEETH TREATED?

Your downtown Chicago dentist, Mohit Joshi, DDS

As with any surgery, Dr. Joshi will want to initially conduct a thorough examination of the wisdom and surrounding teeth. Panoramic or 3-D digital Cone beam CT scans may be taken in order for your surgeon to evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and determine if a current problem exists, or the likelihood of any potential future problems.

The x-rays can also expose additional risk factors, such as deterioration or decay of nearby teeth. Early evaluation and treatment is recommended in order to identify potential problems and to improve the results for patients requiring wisdom teeth extractions.

Only, after a thorough examination can Dr. Joshi provide you with the best options for your particular case.

WHAT DOES THE REMOVAL OF WISDOM TEETH INVOLVE?

Your downtown Chicago dentist, Mohit Joshi, DDS

In most cases, the removal of all four impacted wisdom teeth is performed under general anesthesia. In some instances, local anesthesia or nitrous oxide can be used and the doctor will discuss what is best for your situation. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed at your initial consultation.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER WISDOM TEETH ARE REMOVED?

Your downtown Chicago dentist, Mohit Joshi, DDS

Recovery after wisdom-tooth surgery is generally quite straightforward, but you are likely to experience some discomfort and swelling, particularly in the first 2-3 days. It is important that you take it easy for two days after the operation.

WHY ARE WISDOM TEETH EXTRACTED?

Your downtown Chicago dentist, Mohit Joshi, DDS

Contrary to some opinion, they actually don’t help make you smarter! But joking aside, wisdom teeth extractions are most often performed, because of an active problem such as pain, swelling, decay or infection, or as a preventative measure to avoid serious problems in the future.

When a tooth doesn’t fully grow in, it’s “impacted”–usually unable to break through the gums because there isn’t enough room. 90% of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.

An impacted wisdom tooth can damage neighboring teeth or become infected. Because it’s in an area that’s hard to clean, it can also invite bacteria that lead to gum disease.

Oral bacteria can also travel through your bloodstream and lead to infections and illnesses that affect your heart, kidneys and other organs.

In some cases, a cyst or tumor can form around the base of the impacted tooth, which can lead to more serious problems as it hollows out the jaw and damages surrounding nerves, teeth and other parts of your mouth and face.

If impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is present, and left untreated, a number of potentially harmful outcomes can occur, including:

  • Damage to nearby teeth: Second molars (the teeth directly in front of the wisdom teeth) can be adversely affected by impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in tooth decay (cavities), periodontal disease (gum disease) and possible bone loss.
  • Disease: Although uncommon, cysts, abscesses and tumors can occur in the areas surrounding impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Infection: Bacteria and food can become trapped under the gum tissue, resulting in an infection. The infection can cause considerable pain and danger.
  • Tooth Crowding: It has been theorized that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on other teeth and cause them to become misaligned (crowded or twisted).