What are the wisdom tooth removal expectations today? The typical wisdom tooth patient is a kid who has been receiving regular dental checkups for their whole life, and at one point, they begin experiencing some degree of pain or swelling behind their second molars.
Alternatively, a patient will reach the age of about 17, and their general dentist will refer them to me for an evaluation of their wisdom teeth and a determination as to whether it’s time for them to be removed.
I will conduct an initial evaluation which involves a review of their medical history and medications they’re taking, a 3D CBCT scan, and an examination of their teeth, mouth, throat, and airway. Once all this information has been collected and reviewed, I will discuss treatment options and alternatives.
Occasionally, my staff will get a call from someone who wants to schedule their wisdom tooth removal without first having an initial appointment with me. In most cases, this is because the individual has had a recent appointment with their general dentist. As an oral surgeon, however, it is important that I conduct my own comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s health history.
Conducting my own evaluation will allow me to customize the patient’s care by obtaining answers to key questions, such as whether there are any reasons why a procedure shouldn’t be done a certain way and whether there are any issues that require me to alter my procedure in order to achieve optimal results. In addition, I can provide information to the patient on which treatment I recommend, and fully explain what that treatment will involve. All these steps are necessary prior to proceeding with any procedure.
I will also need to take my own set of scans in order to see the full position of the teeth from every possible direction – even if a patient’s general dentist recently took a set of X-rays. This is because the scans that I obtain are not the same as those a general dentist obtains; I use a state-of-the-art machine to take a 3D cone beam CT scan, which will become the standard in about five to ten years, but at this point, it is only offered by a minority of oral surgeons.
Currently, the cone beam CT scan is beyond gold-standard technology; it uses a small amount of radiation (much less than a conventional set of dental X-rays, approximately the same as being in the sun for two hours) yet generates 360-degree images of the teeth, allowing me to do three-dimensional reconstructions of everything that’s going on with the wisdom teeth and the structures surrounding them.
Why is this superior view vitally important?