I still have all my wisdom teeth. I am 42 years old, and after my last dental x-ray, my dentist said that two teeth are partially impacted. One tooth has a cavity and is impacted by the bone and gums. My dentist referred me to an oral surgeon for an evaluation. The surgeon said that my tooth roots are long, so nerve damage is a risk. Also, my dentist says that one impacted tooth is angled beside a root canal tooth. I am anxious about dental appointments anyway, and I have never had any surgery. Is it worth the risk? Thank you. Alexis from Savannah, GA
Thank you for your question.
Anxiety About Wisdom Teeth Removal
Although wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, your anxiety is not unusual. Tooth roots lengthen as we age, thicken in dense bone, and sometimes get entangled in nerves. Removing the teeth becomes increasingly complex and risky the longer you wait. Still, you can have successful wisdom tooth removal. It is a common surgery, and oral surgeons and dentists trained in oral surgery remove impacted wisdom teeth regularly.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Risks
Oral surgeons and dentists with oral surgery training must explain the risks of wisdom teeth removal, including teeth that are entangled in nerves or affecting other teeth. Usually, a skilled oral surgeon can navigate nerves and avoid long-term damage. Remember, a dentist with oral surgery training and experience and oral surgeons complete thousands of wisdom teeth extractions.
An impacted tooth with a cavity will eventually spread the infection to your gums, bone, and adjacent teeth. So, removing it is wise. An angled wisdom tooth beside a root canal tooth requires extra care. When practical, an oral surgeon will cut a tooth into sections for easier removal and to decrease the risk of damaging adjacent teeth. After examining a 3-D CT scan of your teeth, the oral surgeon may recommend removing all your wisdom teeth to prevent future problems and another surgery.
Sedation for Wisdom Teeth Removal
An oral surgeon or dentist may use a local anesthetic and a sedative for wisdom teeth removal. The local anesthetic will numb your gums and teeth. Oral or IV sedation can relax you and block pain. Speak with an oral surgeon or a dentist trained in oral surgery about sedation options during wisdom teeth removal. Also, ask questions about your concerns to increase your comfort in wisdom teeth surgery.
Monroe, Louisiana dentist Dr. David Finley sponsors this post. Dr. Finley is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.