Nearly 85% of people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed. Some of those teeth never even erupt through the gums, while others only do partially.
When 3rd molars are unerupted or impacted to where they physically can’t come in, the process to remove them is different than a simple extraction. In dental terms, the procedure is referred to as a surgical extraction.
Surgical 3rd Molar Extractions
If a tooth isn’t fully erupted and it’s simple enough (anatomically and health speaking) to remove it using conventional methods, the other form of extraction that dentists use is a surgical one. For an unerupted wisdom tooth, this is the procedure of choice.
During a surgical extraction, your dentist, oral surgeon, or other specialist makes a small opening in the gums. Sometimes a small amount of bone will need to be removed to fully access the wisdom tooth. Then, special tools are used to break the tooth into smaller portions so that they can be removed more easily.
While it may sound very complex, wisdom tooth extractions are an everyday procedure that experts like oral surgeons offer on a routine basis. As such, they don’t usually take very long to complete.
Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth a Real Problem?
You may be thinking to yourself, “If my tooth isn’t even in, there’s no way it can cause any problems. Why should I bother having it removed?”
The truth is, even wisdom teeth that haven’t erupted can cause big issues that affect your oral health. Approximately 25% of adults will see side effects like cysts, infections, tumors, or harm to adjacent teeth due to the way their wisdom teeth are developing. Your dentist can screen for issues like these with routine diagnostic x-rays, giving you a head’s up before you start to develop additional symptoms.
What About Partially Erupted Wisdom Teeth?
Let’s say your tooth is only erupting slightly through the gums, but is otherwise “trapped” further down due to lack of space in your jaws or the fact that it’s coming in at an angle. You or your dentist can spot a small opening or even a fraction of the tooth peeking through, but the rest will never find its way into your mouth.
Sometimes partially erupted wisdom teeth are even worse than the ones that don’t come in at all. Their location and situation makes them especially challenging to clean. It’s easy for food and bacteria to find their way under the gum opening and build up around the tooth underneath. Since a toothbrush and floss can’t clean these areas out, they almost always start to develop cavities and gum disease.
“So, I’ll just get my wisdom tooth pulled when it starts to hurt” you start to tell yourself. Well, that’s actually not the case. Partially erupted and infected wisdom teeth usually cause the neighboring tooth to become infected as well. Instead of worrying about just your 3rd molars, now you’re having to deal with the health of all your 2nd molars as well.
Who Can Extract or Pull Unerupted Wisdom Teeth?
Now you see why having your unerupted wisdom teeth pulled can be beneficial to the other teeth in your mouth. So, who can provide such a surgical extraction? Is this something you can do at your family dentist’s office? In some cases, yes. But many general dentists will usually refer you to a specialist like an oral surgeon.
While seeing a specialist can be more expensive in the long run, you can rest assured that the procedure will be efficient and predictable. Most oral surgeons or dentists pulling wisdom teeth will also offer sedation to help you relax or “nap” through the surgery.
Affording a Wisdom Teeth Extraction
As you plan to have wisdom teeth removed — especially ones that haven’t already come in yet — there are a variety of costs to consider: the dentist you’re using, sedation, where the procedure is taking place (an office vs. a hospital), the type of extraction, and what your insurance is going to pay. At the time of your initial consultation, your provider should be able to give you an estimate of your out-of-pocket expenses left over after benefits are exhausted.
If you’re trying to overlook your wisdom tooth pain because you don’t have insurance, you might want to consider enrolling in an alternative program, such as a discount dental plan. These programs can save you anywhere from 15-50% on treatments like simple extractions and wisdom teeth removal. Contact Aetna Dental Offers to find out more or enroll today.