Extractions and all Oral Surgery
Many dentists send their patients to a separate oral surgeon when it comes to extracting wisdom teeth. Dr. Christopher Comfort has extensive training and experience with these oral surgeries and offers them as part of his outpatient dental services in both the Mammoth Lakes and Encinitas locations.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are leftovers of our evolutionary past. Clinically, they are classified as the third set of molars. They are also known as vestigial organs, along with the appendix and tailbone. In prehistoric times, it made sense to have a third set of molars. After all, diets consisted of leaves, roots, nuts, and some very tough meat. All of this required far greater chewing power and caused greater wear and tear on our teeth. To make room for this extra set of molars, prehistoric jaws were longer than our current jaws.
Fast-forward to today and our diet is much softer and easier to chew, so our wisdom teeth are no longer needed. However they still develop and descend into our mouths. Typically, the first set of molars erupt around age six, the second set at age 12, and the third set (wisdom teeth) somewhere between the ages of 17 and 25. That’s where the “wisdom” moniker comes from, as by that age, hopefully, we are a little bit smarter than in our younger days.
Why do wisdom teeth need to be pulled?
Because our jaws are shorter, when the wisdom teeth descend, they usually wreak havoc. They can become impacted (blocked) by other teeth. They can come in sideways, pushing on adjacent teeth. Sometimes they are fully surrounded by bone. If one wisdom tooth does break through, it’s the perfect scenario for bacteria to thrive and create an infection.
When should the wisdom teeth need to be extracted?
Dr. Comfort recommends extracting the wisdom teeth sooner rather than later, so as to head off any future challenges. Why? When a teenager is between the ages of 15 and 18 the wisdom tooth roots are only two-thirds formed, but if you wait, the roots will fully develop and make extraction that much more difficult.
How are wisdom teeth extracted?
Wisdom teeth are monitored through regular exams, x-rays, and cleanings. When they start descending, they will begin to either erupt or start pushing on the other teeth. At that point, it is time to remove them. The least invasive methods will be used, but sometimes in extreme cases, they’ll need to be broken to get them out and minimize the impact on the surrounding gum tissue and the jawbone. Dr. Comfort is careful to keep his patients comfortable and pain free throughout the process.
Contact our offices in Encinitas and Mammoth Lakes, California to schedule an appointment and find out if oral surgery is the best option for you!