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Neal A. Zabiegalski, Oral Surgery

(301) 862-5600



Wisdom Teeth

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) are ideal for biting off food portions. The canine (eye teeth) are for tearing off tougher foods. The back teeth (premolars) 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 a big problem 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 impacted, meaning that they are being 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.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and may eventually cause an infection. The result: swelling, stiffness, pain, and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may push other teeth forward 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 jaw 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.  When the teeth are not fully formed, patients have an easier recovery.

Oral Examination

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Zabiegalski can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and can make recommendation of removal of the wisdom teeth. 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 oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Zabiegalski and his staff have the training, licenses and experience necessary to select and provide the best anesthesia alternative for each patient’s individual needs.


In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under general anesthesia or intravenous anesthesia. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., 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 postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, gauze, prescriptions and a follow-up appointment in one week for evaluation and suture removal. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at (301) 862- 5600.