Wisdom Teeth Extraction
in Anchorage, Eagle River & Wasilla

By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine, and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth (molar teeth) are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.

The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as wisdom teeth.

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt.

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These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they have partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

what is involved in Oral Examination?

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Szutz can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there are present or potential future problems. 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 by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

All out-patient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Szutz has the training, license and experience to provide various types of anesthesia for patients and to select the best alternative.

what happens during wisdom Removal?

In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under local anesthesia, in conjunction with intravenous sedation. These options, as well as the surgical risks (e.g., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gum may be sutured. To help control bleeding, bite down on the gauze placed in your mouth. You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your post-operative kit will include post-operative instructions, extra gauze if necessary, a prescription for pain medication, and a follow-up appointment in one week to check for normal healing. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at Alaska Oral Surgery Group Office Phone Number 907-278-5678.

Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.

What is an impacted tooth?

Although most people develop and grow 32 permanent adult teeth, many times their jaws are too small to accommodate the four wisdom teeth. When inadequate space prevents the teeth from erupting they are called impacted wisdom teeth. This indicates their inability to erupt into the proper position for chewing and cleaning.

A diagram half mouth X-ray with teeth impaction and half digital graphic highlighting impacted teeth

Types Of Impactions

We will need to see you for a consultation to determine if you will benefit from wisdom tooth removal. A special x-ray of your mouth and jaws (panorex) will be taken to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted, if there is room for them to erupt, and how difficult it will be to have them removed.

  • Soft Tissue Impaction: There is not enough room to allow the gum tissue to retract for adequate cleaning of the tooth.
  • Partial Bony Impaction: There is enough space to allow the wisdom tooth to partially erupt. However, the tooth cannot function properly in the chewing process, and creates cleaning problems, among others.
  • Complete Bony Impaction: There is NO space for the tooth to erupt. It remains embedded in the jaw bone or if even partially visible requires complex surgical techniques for removal.The impacted wisdom tooth may also be in an unusual position and difficult to remove. This situation can also arise when the shape or size of the jaw bone and other facial structures make removal of this tooth significantly more complex.
A representation of a wisdom tooth impacted by soft tissueSoft Tissue
An example of a wisdom tooth with a partial bony impactionPartial Bony
An illustration of a wisdom tooth completely impacted by boneComplete Bony

FAQ about Wisdom Teeth Removal

Is wisdom tooth removal painful?

Post-operative discomfort is expected after a surgical procedure. Dr. Szutz administers the form of sedation you’ve chosen ahead of time and makes sure you’re fully comfortable before proceeding with surgery. A sensation of sleepiness will continue for several hours after the extraction has been completed, and we will send you home with a pain management plan so any discomfort can be minimized.

Possible symptoms after Surgery: Dry Socket

Complications following wisdom teeth removal are rare and largely avoidable. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot in the extraction site become dislodged or doesn’t develop properly, and this can be painful. Dry socket normally results from smoking and straw use, improper home care, and unknown infections. If you think you have symptoms of dry socket, please call us right away. They usually occur a few days after surgery and may include:
• Significant pain radiating to the ear, cheek, etc.
• Bad breath or unpleasant taste in the mouth.
• Visible bone or an empty-looking socket.

What to expect during wisdom teeth surgery?

The first step in the wisdom teeth removal process is scheduling a consultation with us. Once we’ve gathered X-rays and a clear picture of the positioning of your teeth, we will create a customized treatment plan for the extraction of your third molars. We’ll provide you with very specific pre- and post-surgical instructions that we recommend you read and follow closely. Details matter when it come to a speedy and smooth recovery.

Before surgery, fast for the 8 hours prior. And when you arrive, make sure to have a parent or responsible adult present to drive you home. We won’t get started unless you have a ride arranged.

During surgery, you’ll be anesthetized, comfortable, and less ware of what’s happening if you are sedated. The length of your procedure depends on the unique details of your case, but our wisdom teeth removals typically take about an hour.

After surgery, you’ll feel sleepy and maybe numb in your jaw which is all a common part of the healing process. Plan to do nothing for the rest of the day except rest and focus on your recovery. Liquids and eventually soft foods, like ice cream, should be the menu for the day. And be sure to avoid using straws and tobacco because they can dislodge the clot that is covering the extraction site, resulting in dry socket.

After-Care Instructions

We highly recommend you read the after-care instructions we provide for you. This will make your recovery process much easier. Once home, place an ice pack on your cheek, 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off. Soreness after surgery can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications.

How to Prepare for Surgery?

Prior to your wisdom teeth extraction surgery, we will send you home with very specific pre- and post-surgical instructions so that you know what to expect.

A few key items for before the surgery:

Food: No eating or drinking the day of your procedure except for pre-approved medications which may be taken with a sip of water.

Adult: Bring a parent or responsible adult. We will not be able to release you alone.

Anesthesia: Most people prefer to be sedated for the procedure, and we offer a variety of levels of anesthesia to accommodate personal preferences. We are trained and highly experienced with anesthesia. Providing you with a safe and comfortable experience is our top priority.

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery?

The length of your surgery depends on a variety of factors, including the level of impaction of your teeth and the number of teeth being removed. Typically, most wisdom teeth extractions are performed in about an hour during which you will be kept comfortable with anesthesia.

how do self-care after Surgery?

A few key items to keep in mind for after the surgery:

Numbness: You will feel sleepy for the remainder of the day, and you may have numbness in the jaw and possibly a sensation of your gums feeling swollen and pulling away from your teeth. This is a common part of the healing process.

Food: Start with clear liquids and slowly progress to soft foods.

No straws: Throughout the healing period, you may NOT use straws or tobacco. Using straws and smoking can dislodge the clot that is covering your extraction site, resulting in a very painful condition called dry socket.

Pain medications: Make sure you have any over-the-counter or prescription pain medications ready to go for when the anesthesia starts to wear off at home.

Soreness after surgery can be managed with over-the-counter medications, but we will discuss with you all medication options before your surgery to ensure that you have adequate pain relief at home as the anesthesia wears off.
Healing and Complications
Thankfully, complications following wisdom teeth removal are rare and largely avoidable. However, if you suspect any of these issues, please call us for instructions:

Dry Sockets
Dry sockets are a complication following tooth extraction, and they can occur when the blood clot in an extraction site becomes dislodged or never develops properly. This complication can result from smoking and straw use, improper homecare and vigorous rinsing, and unknown infections. If you have symptoms of dry socket, please call our office immediately so that we can help manage your pain and properly care for you. Dry socket symptoms normally appear several days after your surgery and may include:
• Significant pain.
• Pain radiating to the ear, cheek, etc.
• Bad breath or unpleasant taste in the mouth.
• Visible bone or an empty-looking socket.

You may be developing an infection if you have a fever, worsening pain and swelling.

Damage to Sensory Nerve:
It is normal to feel some numbness or tingling in the lower lip, chin or tongue following a wisdom teeth extraction. However, very rarely, sensory nerve damage occurs that causes the sensation to stay permanently. Having your wisdom teeth out while you are young lessens the likelihood that this condition will develop—another reason to take care of this important procedure during the teen years!

Sinus Communication:
Because the upper wisdom teeth are so close to the sinus cavities, an opening can develop between the sinuses and the mouth following an extraction. This “hole” will usually close on its own, provided that you follow specific instructions (avoid blowing your nose, sneeze with your mouth open) to avoid a pressure buildup in the sinuses. In rare cases, we must perform an additional procedure to close the opening.