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Wisdom Teeth Q / A

Wisdom Teeth Q / A

Also called third molars, wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth to erupt. Usually, people get their wisdom teeth in during their late teens and early 20s. Although some individuals have no trouble with their wisdom teeth, many people end up having these teeth removed because they may become impacted and create dental health issues. Learn more about wisdom teeth with this Q and A:

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?
If your wisdom teeth aren’t causing problems, you can leave them alone. Typically, wisdom teeth are crooked or impacted, which can generate problems with the surrounding teeth. Also, wisdom teeth can be harder to keep clean, so the risk of decay on these teeth is higher.

When should I have these teeth taken out?
For optimal results, most dentists recommend wisdom teeth removal for patients when they are between 16 and 22 years old. The formation of the roots isn’t complete, so you have fewer complications.

Are there any risks?
As with any surgery, you can have issues arise, but the biggest concerns are nerve damage and dry sockets. Older patients have a greater chance of nerve damage because the root has more fully developed. Dry sockets occur when the post-surgery blood clots dislodge.

Does my age matter?
Some adults don’t experience any symptoms until they are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. You can have these teeth extracted at any point, but when you get older, surgery is more difficult and the recovery takes longer. If you have trouble with your wisdom teeth, contact your dentist right away for a complete exam.

Baltimore dental office for wisdom teeth – White Marsh Family Dentistry

Wisdom Teeth: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Wisdom Teeth: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Wisdom teeth, your third set of molars, are named that because they are the final teeth to erupt. They usually come in between ages 17 to 25, and are located in the very back of your mouth on the top and bottom. Your dentist will examine you to find out if your wisdom teeth are properly positioned and healthy. If they aren’t, your dentist will recommend removal.

How do you know wisdom teeth should be removed?
Some of the signs there is a problem with your wisdom teeth include pain, infection, cysts, gum disease, damage to nearby teeth, and tooth decay. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your dentist for an examination.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?
Sometimes your teeth just don’t have room to grow in properly. They can erupt at angles within your jaw, sometimes even horizontally. If wisdom teeth aren’t able to erupt normally they can become trapped, or impacted, inside your jaw. Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth are pain, infection, and swelling. When teeth are impacted, they can lead to serious problems. Many dentists want to avoid impacted teeth and therefore remove your wisdom teeth before they erupt or grow too big.

Are there less obvious reasons to remove wisdom teeth?
It’s not always clear when these teeth way in the back of your mouth are causing problems, or might in the future. Many dentists remove them in teens or young adults so they don’t cause problems later, or become too firmly planted in the jaw. Also, sometimes wisdom teeth are removed as part of orthodontic, periodontal, or restorative treatment plans.

What happens if I don’t have them removed?
Some dentists prefer to wait and see what happens with time to your wisdom teeth. Make sure you continue to have these teeth monitored, because the risk of problems doesn’t go away with age. Removing wisdom teeth isn’t always necessary, because if there’s room in your mouth and they come in properly, they work just like any other teeth. The key is to watch them to make sure problems don’t arise in the future.

Dental office for wisdom teeth removal

Treating Sleep Apnea With Oral Surgery

Treating Sleep Apnea With Oral Surgery

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition created when a portion of the upper airway is blocked, causing breathing interruptions during sleep and low blood oxygen levels. As many as 20% of adults are affected by mild obstructive sleep apnea, while one in fifteen suffers from more severe apnea.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include snoring, extreme daytime drowsiness, restless sleep, high blood pressure, depression, problems with mental function, as well as a host of other mental and physical concerns. Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to a long list of serious medical conditions, including hypertension, heart attack and stroke.

If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may initially treat the condition with a CPAP device that you wear while sleeping. While a CPAP machine will reduce the obstruction to the airway, it is not a cure and will only be effective during use. Other non-surgical treatment recommendations may include the wearing of mouthguards to reposition the jaw, sleep position changes, or weight loss.

Tongue muscle advancement involves moving the bony attachment of the tongue muscles, and can be combined with palatal surgery to reduce excess tissues. This therapy may also include removing enlarged tonsils and nasal surgery. These treatments are most often used for milder cases of obstructive sleep apnea.

However, if these treatments do not work or for more severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, oral surgery offers solutions to correct apnea. Maxillomandibular Advancement is a procedure that repositions the upper and lower jaw and chin to open the airway. This treatment is highly successful and offers the greatest chance of permanent correction in moderate to severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea.

For more information about how surgical therapies and treatments can be utilized to address your obstructive sleep apnea, consult with a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

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Corrective Jaw Surgery

Corrective Jaw Surgery

Oral surgery to correct problems with the jaw is known as orthognathic surgery. Jaw issues can result from birth defects, changes due to growth, or injury or trauma to the face. While orthodontics can correct bite problems when only the teeth are involved, oral surgery may be required when repositioning of the jaw is necessary to correct the issue. If you suffer from any of the following concerns, orthognathic surgery may be a consideration:

  • Difficulty chewing, biting or swallowing
  • Problems with opening and closing your mouth, or with speaking
  • Persistent jaw or temporomandibular joint pain
  • Clenching or grinding of teeth causing excessive wear to the teeth
  • Inability to make the lips meet without straining
  • Un-proportional facial appearance or protruding jaw
  • Malocclusion, open, or incorrect bite
  • Recessive lower jaw and chin
  • Habitual mouth breathing
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Facial injury or trauma

Most jaw surgeries are performed completely in the mouth, so no facial scars are visible. The oral surgeon makes cuts in the jawbone and then moves them to the correct position. Once the jaw is correctly aligned, screws and bone plates are placed to secure the jaw into the new position. Sometimes it may be necessary to add extra bone to the jaw from your hip, leg, or rib.

Orthognathic surgery is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon usually in a hospital setting. Recovery time from jaw surgery takes three to six weeks. Your general or family dentist should be able to refer you to a skilled oral surgeon for a consultation and examination to determine a treatment plan. Jaw surgery can improve not only your facial appearance, but also chewing, speaking and breathing functions.

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Treating Receding Gums With Oral Surgery

Treating Receding Gums With Oral Surgery

While minor gum recession can be treated by your dentist with deep cleaning and antibiotics, serious gum recession can only be treated with oral surgery. A loss of bone and gum pockets that are very deep require gum surgery to address the pain and damage left by acute gum recession.

Three treatments are used primarily in the treatment of serious gum recession, in order of invasiveness: pocket depth reduction, regeneration, and soft tissue graft. Pocket depth reduction involves a deep cleaning of the affected area. The periodontist folds the gum tissue back and utilizes tooth scaling and root planing to remove any tartar and plaque built up around the tooth. Once the gum pockets are clean, the surgeon pulls the gum tissue gently around the tooth, eliminating the deep pockets altogether or significantly reducing their depth.

Regeneration utilizes a similar treatment to pocket depth reduction, but it also addresses any bone loss that occurred due to acute gum recession. In this process, a regenerative agent such as graft tissue, membranes or tissue stimulating proteins is added to the affected area. The gum tissue is then tucked into place and stitched down. Over time, the regenerative agent will work to rebuild lost bone and tissue, leaving healthy and thriving tissue behind.

The most common soft tissue graft is taken from the patient’s own mouth, either by removing tissue from the roof of the mouth or from the gum tissue near the affected tooth. The healthy gum tissue is placed in the affected area, over the exposed tooth root, protecting it from infection and damage.

To prevent the need for oral surgery to address your receding gums, have good oral hygiene habits. Brush, floss and see your dentist twice a year for checkups and professional cleanings. Talk to your dentist if you have any other questions about how to reverse or prevent gum recession.


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Oral Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

Oral Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

If oral surgery is in your future, you might be worried about what’s to come. The way to relieve that worry is to talk to your oral surgeon. Your oral surgeon has the experience and knowledge necessary to guide you through whatever concerns or questions you may have. Here is a guide to some of those questions and answers:

How will I handle pain following surgery?

  • In many cases, you will have been prescribed narcotic pain relievers. If you are taking narcotics, take them only as recommended and do not mix them with over-the-counter pain relievers or alcohol. Driving while on narcotics is dangerous and can have serious consequences for you personally and for others. If you weren’t prescribed any medication, use anti-inflammatory analgesics such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.

What will happen to my stitches in the days following surgery?

  • Some stitches will be designed to dissolve over time and will not need to be removed. Others will not come out on their own and will need to be removed at a subsequent appointment. In many cases, losing a single stitch or two in the days following surgery isn’t serious; however, for bone-graft treatments, it is problematic and you should contact your surgeon immediately.

Can I eat normally after surgery?

  • Immediately after surgery when you’re still experiencing any mouth or tongue numbness, don’t eat anything. You could mistake the soft tissues of your mouth for food and do serious damage to your mouth without realizing it. After your numbness subsides, consume soft foods of tepid temperatures for several days to allow for healing. Talk to your surgeon to learn when you can resume normal eating patterns as dictated by your particular surgery.

What other tips do you have?

  • Stay hydrated and rest as much as possible to facilitate complete and quick healing. Call your surgeon if you have excessive bleeding or pain that doesn’t lessen with time. Be aware of signs of infection (swelling, redness, odorous or sour discharge) at the surgical site and seek professional care when needed.

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