Wisdom Teeth Removal

Calgary Wisdom Teeth Oral Examination

To pinpoint the exact position of your wisdom teeth, Dr. Kevin Robertson will evaluate X-rays of your mouth, and examine the appearance of the wisdom teeth in your mouth. Based on these findings, Dr. Robertson will have a discussion with you about whether removal is necessary, and assess the right approach for your surgery. Wisdom teeth removal is an extremely common and safe procedure when done in the hands of an appropriately trained oral surgeon.
All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Our doctors are trained, licensed, and highly experienced in providing various types of anesthesia for patients.

Why should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

If you do not have enough room in your mouth for your third molars to fully erupt, a number of problems can happen. Impacted wisdom teeth should be removed before their root structure is fully developed. In some patients it is as early as 12 or 13, and in others it may not be until the early twenties. Problems tend to occur with increasing frequency after the age of 30. Some of the possible problems related to not removing your wisdom teeth include:

A representation of a pericoronitis infection on a wisdom tooth

Infection:

The most frequent clinical problem we see is pericoronitis, (a localized gum infection). Without enough room for total eruption, the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth can become irritated and infected, resulting in recurrent pain, swelling, and problems with chewing and/or swallowing.

An example of a cyst formation on a wisdom tooth

Cyst Formation:

Non-infectious diseases may also arise in association with an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts are fluid-filled “balloons” inside the jaw bone that develop as a result of impacted teeth and slowly expand destroying adjacent jaw bone and occasionally teeth. They can be very difficult to treat if your wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years. Although rare, tumors can be associated with the delayed removal of wisdom teeth.

An illustration of teeth crowding causes by a wisdom tooth

Possible Crowding:

Impacted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of your teeth. This is most noticeable with the front teeth, primarily the lower front teeth and is most commonly seen after a patient has had braces. There are a number of factors that cause teeth to crowd after braces or in early adulthood. Retained, impacted wisdom teeth may be a contributing factor. Unless you have an active problem when you see the oral surgeon, the reason for removal is primarily to prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums and jaw bone.

A visual of a wisdom tooth damaging an adjacent tooth

Damage to Adjacent Teeth:

If there is inadequate room to clean around the wisdom tooth, the tooth directly in front, the second molar, can be adversely affected resulting in gum disease, bone loss around the tooth, and/or decay.

Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?

Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed! If they don’t cause pain, and they have erupted or look like they will erupt into the mouth in a normal position, and you can commit to meticulous hygiene in the area to keep them clean, and you don’t develop any cavities in them, you can keep your wisdom teeth for your entire life. This, however, only applies to about 15-35% of the general population. A careful examination by an oral surgeon is the best way to determine if you are a candidate to try to keep your wisdom teeth.
About 65-85% of the population will eventually need to have their wisdom teeth removed during their lifetime. As the risks with removal generally increase with increasing age, if it looks like they will eventually have to be removed, it often is a smart choice to remove them at the ideal age of 16-20 (or as soon after that as possible) for prevention.

What if I don’t have my wisdom teeth removed as a teenager or young adult?

As wisdom teeth develop, the roots become longer and the jaw bone more dense. When it is necessary to remove impacted wisdom teeth in your thirties, forties or beyond, the post-operative course can be prolonged and there is a higher complication rate. Treating these complications is often more difficult and less predictable than with a younger patient. Healing may be slower and the chance of infection can be increased. If your impacted wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years or early in your twenties and they are completely impacted in bone, it may be advisable to wait until a localized problem (such as cyst formation or localized gum disease and bone loss) develops. In general, you will heal faster, more predictably and have fewer complications if treated in your teens or early twenties.

What is the best age to have wisdom teeth removed?

In most patients, the ideal age to have wisdom teeth removed is from 16-20 years old. However, wisdom teeth mature at different times in different patients, so careful evaluation by an oral surgeon is the best option to determine the appropriate timing. This is typically done with a clinical examination and a panoramic xray, which is one that shows the whole upper and lower jaw and all of the teeth.
It’s generally preferable to remove wisdom teeth just before they’ve started to erupt through the gums because that is when they become painful and when infections can develop around them. Additionally, many studies show that the risks of removing wisdom teeth are much lower in patients below the age of 25

What happens on the day wisdom teeth are removed?

Most people prefer to be unaware of the experience when they have their wisdom teeth removed and usually decide to be sedated. You will be provided with appropriate anesthesia options at your consultation. All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize your comfort. Our office staff has the training, licensing, and experience to provide the various types of anesthesia. These services are provided in an environment of optimum safety, utilizing modern monitoring equipment and a well trained experienced staff. The Surgical Care Team, the office facilities, and the doctors are inspected on behalf of the Board of Dental Examiners on a regular basis.

On the day of your procedure, you will take medications to help minimize post-operative pain and swelling. We ask that a parent or responsible adult accompanies you to the office and plans to stay with you the rest of the day. The procedure will take about 30 to 60 minutes and you will probably be in the office for 90 minutes. Recent advances in medicine and technology allow patients to undergo wisdom tooth removal in a manner, which promotes rapid healing and minimal post-operative discomfort. State-of-the-art sterilization and infection control techniques are used at all times.

On the morning or afternoon of your surgery, it is essential that you have nothing to eat or drink (excluding prescription medications with a sip of water) for at least 6 hours (preferably longer). This does not mean you should try to fit in one “last meal” exactly six hours before your surgery. Having anything in your stomach can increase the risk for serious anesthetic complications, including nausea and vomiting. Your procedure will be rescheduled if you have not heeded these guidelines. We may provide you with a prescription for pain medication at your consultation appointment, which for your convenience, can be filled in advance. When you are seated in the surgical room, we will make every effort to make you as comfortable as possible. If you are going to be sedated, we usually will place an IV in your left arm. This is a quick and nearly painless procedure that ensures optimal delivery of your medication. Local anesthesia is given to you afterwards to ensure comfort, and allow adequate time to travel home and rest. You will be sleepy for a significant portion of the day.

smiling teenage son with his mother

The Day of Treatment

Be sure to have an adult with you at the time of removal. Make plans to have a parent or responsible adult stay with you for the rest of the day, following wisdom tooth removal.

If your surgery requires stitches, these are usually the type that dissolve in 3 to 5 days and do not require removal. You may also notice a sensation of your gums feeling swollen and pulling away from your teeth. This is all part of the normal recovery, and will subside in several days.

Once the local anesthesia wears off, you may require prescription pain medication. Please try non-narcotic anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil®) first, to see if that adequately treats your pain. If not, begin your other prescription pain medication. The local anesthesia may last until the following day, and should not be confused with an injury to your nerve. We recommend starting your post-operative diet with clear liquids such as jello and broths, gradually increasing in substance as your body permits.

We do not recommend using dairy products such as yogurt, ice cream or milkshakes on the day of surgery, as nausea and vomiting may develop in conjunction with the anesthetic and pain medication. If you are given antibiotics and you take birth control pills, please be aware that the birth control pills might become ineffective and take appropriate precautions.

What does wisdom tooth removal cost and is it covered by insurance?

The fee for your treatment is determined by a number of factors. These may include the difficulty involved in removing your teeth and which type of anesthesia is best for you. During your consultation appointment, the surgeon will need to review your x-rays, complete an examination and determine the best option for anesthesia, before an accurate estimate can be provided. Every insurance company has a different policy regarding the extent of coverage for a given surgical procedure. The oral surgeon’s office staff will help you obtain maximum insurance coverage for your treatment.

Recovering from Wisdom Teeth Removal

At your consultation appointment or on the day of the procedure, you’ll receive detailed instructions on how to care for yourself after surgery. You will need to take at least a few days to rest after your surgery and limit your diet to liquids immediately after surgery. As you recover, you should incorporate soft, solid foods to give you the energy to heal.

What if I have questions before surgery?

At the time of your consultation, your specific situation will be discussed in greater detail. We encourage you to ask any questions you may have. If new questions arise after your consultation, please call our office at Foundation Oral Surgery Phone Number 403-263-5193 to speak to one of our patient care coordinators.

A smiling woman

The Day of Treatment

Please do not eat or drink anything prior to your surgery. Having anything in your stomach can increase the risk for serious anesthetic complications.