At 6th Avenue Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, we love teeth. Our job is to ensure they are healthy and beautiful. Sometimes it is necessary to remove a tooth to get the best results. This is especially common with the third molars, which are more commonly known as wisdom teeth.

There are a number of reasons why a tooth may need to be removed. Here are some of the more common situations:


– The tooth has been damaged beyond repair by decay or fracture


– The tooth has grown in an incorrect position


– The tooth needs to be removed to make way for orthodontic appliances


Teeth may also need to be extracted in connection with other medical treatments. For example, people receiving chemotherapy or undergoing an organ transplant have compromised immune systems, and they may need to have a tooth extracted if it poses a serious risk of infection.

Removing Wisdom Teeth

Each tooth has a specific name and specific function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (the incisors, canine and bicuspid teeth) grasp and bite food. The back teeth, or molar teeth, grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing. The average person has 32 teeth by age 18 – 16 on top, 16 on bottom.


But did you know that the average mouth is only made to hold only 28 teeth? Therefore, it’s no surprise that it can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that best holds only 28. The four additional teeth are your third molars, better known as your wisdom teeth.


Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to break through the gums, doing so at the average age of 18, though it is often earlier or later. If they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, there is no problem. Unfortunately, this generally does not happen. Wisdom teeth need to be extracted when they are unable to properly develop within the mouth.


Wisdom teeth may grow sideways or only partially emerge from the gum. They commonly remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. This can pose problems not only during growth, but years down the line.


At 6th Avenue Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, we utilize state-of-the-art equipment known as an i-CAT to scan and evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and detect present or future problems. Our computer-guided, three-dimensional x-ray is invaluable in determining other things your doctor needs to know, such as the position of the teeth relative to vital structures like the sinuses and nerves.




How Should I Remove My Teeth?

Wisdom teeth that only partially break through the gum line create an opening that can allow bacteria to grow, ultimately causing an infection and swelling, stiffness, pain and illness.


The most serious complication occurs when tumors or cysts form around the affected wisdom tooth. This may deteriorate or damage the jaw bone and healthy teeth. Removing the offending tooth or teeth usually resolves these serious problems. They should be removed earlier rather than later to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.


Many studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or oral surgeon.

How Does the Procedure Work?

Like all outpatient surgery, removal of wisdom teeth is performed under appropriate anesthesia right in our downtown San Diego office to maximize patient comfort and convenience.


The extraction procedure will require local anesthesia, possibly with an intravenous sedative. (In some rare cases, general anesthetic is used.) Surrounding tissue and bone may need to first be removed to expose the tooth. The tooth is then extracted, sometimes in several pieces. In some cases, self-dissolving stitches may be used after the extraction.


You may experience swelling and a small amount of bleeding near the affected area for a day or two. Complete healing may take one to two weeks, during which you must be careful to keep the area clean from food particles.


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