Who Should Remove Your Wisdom Teeth?Aug 8, 2014
Wisdom tooth extraction is almost a rite of passage for many Americans. Dr. Bryce Williams talks about why it’s important to have them removed. He also describes the difference between dentists and oral surgeons and offers some insight about which may be a better choice if you are having this procedure done.
Interviewer: You've been told by your dentist that you have impacted wisdom teeth and they need to come out. Is that the case and is there a way that it could be a little easier? We'll talk about that next on The Scope.
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Interviewer: I think my guests would agree that nobody looks forward to having their wisdom teeth pulled. But there could be an easier way than what you're aware of. We're with Dr. Bryce Williams. He's an oral surgeon in the Ear, Nose and Throat department at the University of Utah Health Care. Boy that's a tough thing isn't it? Is there anything more painful than having your wisdom teeth pulled?
Dr. Williams: It's certainly not the most exciting thing to have to look forward to. But it is kind of a rite of passage into adulthood.
Interviewer: Yes, so let's talk about why somebody should and the importance of it. And then we're going to talk about what you can do to make the experience a little bit better. So first of all, wisdom teeth. Why would somebody want to have them pulled? And is it important?
Dr. Williams: Wisdom teeth in the majority of people cause a problem because there's not enough room in the mouth for them to come in. So removing them early on in life is important because taking them out as you're older is more difficult; the bone is harder, you may have other health problems as you get older, and the roots are longer.
Interviewer: So get them out while you're young and healthy. Is this a preventative thing? This is before you see any evidence of impacted teeth?
Dr. Williams: Right. There's a lot of evidence to show that having the wisdom teeth taken out before the age of 25, you get a better outcome and you avoid long term complications.
Interviewer: And is that something everybody should do?
Dr. Williams: It's not for everybody. But the vast majority of people should at least get a dental x-ray to check out and see where those teeth are and to see if they're going to cause a problem.
Interviewer: And the dentist could figure that out for them?
Dr. Williams: Absolutely.
Interviewer: Okay, and then at that point the dentist says okay, you probably should have these pulled out. What then?
Dr. Williams: Yes a general dentist is able to remove your wisdom teeth. The difference between a general dentist and an oral surgeon is the oral surgeon is trained to remove the wisdom teeth using IV sedation.
Interviewer: Okay. And a dentist can't?
Dr. Williams: Oral surgeons typically do a deeper level of sedation and know how to do it safely. That way you can go completely to sleep and not remember any of the procedure, wake up when it's all done, and go home and have a somewhat good memory of the event.
Interviewer: As opposed to being awake the whole time and watching the thing.
Dr. Williams: Right. Exactly.
Interviewer: So only oral surgeons can do IV sedation which sounds like a huge benefit. What are some of the other benefits of having perhaps an oral surgeon do it over a general dentist?
Dr. Williams: So the core of an oral surgeon's training is four to six years after dental school. And the core of that is in removal of wisdom teeth. So we see a lot more cases, we do a lot more difficult cases, we're trained to do them with IV sedation. As a general dentist's bread and butter is fillings and crowns, an oral surgeon's core is the removal of wisdom teeth. So we feel very comfortable with it.
Interviewer: Yes, so that's what you do. You see a lot of it. You do a lot of them.
Dr. Williams: Exactly. And I think that helps translate into a quicker recovery for the patient, kind of a smoother procedure, and all of that.
Interviewer: Yes, and plus you don't have to be awake for it.
Dr. Williams: Exactly.
Interviewer: If somebody has any questions what can they do?
Dr. Williams: You can search for me on the university website, Bryce Williams, DDS. You can find more information about wisdom tooth removal and IV sedation, and my contact information is on there as well.
Interviewer: Final thoughts?
Dr. Williams: You should go to your dentist every six months for routine checkups and cleanings. Your dentist can take x-rays and diagnose you with impacted wisdom teeth. If you do need to have your wisdom teeth removed keep in mind that there is a nicer way to do it with IV sedation.
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