Frequently Asked Questions

Third Molars:

In an adult there are 32 teeth.  Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth and if they erupt normally with healthy tissue around them then they likely don’t need to be removed.  Generally this is not the case and many wisdom teeth do not erupt into the mouth and may need to be removed.

To determine if wisdom teeth need to be removed a consult with our office is recommended.  During this consult an oral exam will be performed and X-rays will be reviewed to determine if your wisdom teeth need to be removed.  If wisdom teeth need to be removed this can be performed with local anesthesia, local anesthesia and nitrous oxide, or I.V. sedation.

After removal of your wisdom teeth you need to bite on gauze for one hour, eat soft food and advance to normal foods slowly, rest, take medications as prescribed, and avoid strenuous activity.  Generally it takes 3-5 days after removal of your wisdom teeth for the pain to go away and the surgical sites should be mostly healed by two weeks.

What are symptoms of potentially problematic wisdom teeth?
Pain, jaw tenderness, swollen gums, food sticking between teeth, difficulty cleaning wisdom teeth, and in rare cases swelling under the tongue and neck with difficulty breathing.

Do all wisdom teeth need to be removed?
No.  Many wisdom teeth can cause problems and need to be removed however the decision is unique to each patient.

If I can’t see my wisdom teeth does this mean there isn’t a problem?
No.  Wisdom teeth that can’t be seen in the mouth after the expected age of eruption are called impacted wisdom teeth.  Impacted wisdom teeth are capable of causing problems with periodontal disease, cavities, damage to adjacent teeth, and in rare cases can be associated with cysts or tumors

Should wisdom teeth be removed if they don’t hurt?
In some cases wisdom teeth should be removed even if they don’t hurt.  The position of some wisdom teeth can predict a high likelihood of developing problems in the future and should be removed.  This can be determined in a consultation.

Are Oral Surgeons the only doctors that remove wisdom teeth?
No.  Some general dentists and periodontists remove wisdom teeth.  Many patients want to be sedated to have their wisdom teeth removed and oral surgeons can generally provide a deeper level of sedation than general dentists and periodontists to help with anxiety related to the procedure.

Is it painful to have your wisdom teeth removed?
There is some discomfort with all surgery and wisdom teeth are no exception.  The worst discomfort is generally the first three days and generally starts to improve after day three.

Is there an ideal age to have your wisdom teeth removed?
Ideally patients should have their wisdom teeth evaluated at a young age which their dentist or orthodontist can help determine.  If wisdom teeth need to be removed it is better to remove them prior to the wisdom teeth being fully developed.

What is dry socket? 
Alveolar Osteitis (Dry Socket) is a condition that happens when the blood clot is lost or doesn’t form in an extraction site. With no blood clot present the bone in the extraction site is exposed to the oral cavity which causes an inflammatory response.  This generally happens in the lower jaw after dental extractions.  Treatment is generally to reduce symptoms which resolve quickly with healing.

Extraction of Teeth:

Why would I need to have a tooth extracted?
There are many reasons to need an extraction.  Some examples including cavities, tissue and bone loss around teeth, crowding, pain, swelling, and in preparation for a prosthesis

Does it hurt? 
Dr. McPherson offers multiple options for anesthesia to reduce discomfort  and anxiety during an extraction or procedure.  Most patients have discomfort for 3-5 days after an extraction that can be managed with pain medication

Do I really need to see an Oral Surgeon for an extraction? 
All dentists are capable of extracting teeth.  Many refer to an Oral Surgeon when the extraction will likely be difficult or can cause significant complications.  Oral Surgeons have extensive training in exodontia or dental extractions and are qualified to handle almost any dental extraction.

If I lose a tooth what do I replace it with? 
There are many options for replacing lost teeth.  Examples include dental implants, bridges, partial dentures, or complete dentures.


There are multiple methods of anesthesia provided in our office.  The type of anesthesia to be used during the procedure is determined at the consultation.

Local Anesthesia
With local anesthesia the patient remains conscious and a medication such as lidocaine is administered in the area where the surgery is to be performed. Local anesthesia is used with other types of anesthesia.

Nitrous Oxide
With a nitrous oxide or laughing gas the patient remains conscious but has less anxiety and pain with the procedure. Nitrous oxide is administered through a breathing apparatus.

I.V. Sedation
With I.V. Sedation medication is administered through an intravenous line which causes a decreased state of consciousness. Most patients are completely unaware of the procedure being performed. I.V. Sedation is generally offered to healthy patients and may be unsafe in an outpatient office with some health conditions. Dr. McPherson has extensive training in performing anesthesia with inhalation and intravenous agents and is qualified to provide a safe environment for your treatment

Dental Implants:

What are dental implants? 
Dental implants are made of titanium and replace the root structure of missing teeth.  They are the most natural way to replace missing teeth

Do I need to see a dentist if I have dental implants?
Yes, dental implants require cleanings and maintenance just like teeth.

How long do they last? 
With good oral hygiene and seeing a dentist implants will likely last longer than any other restorative option.

When can I get teeth on the implant? 
In some cases dental implants can be placed and a provisional tooth placed on the same day.  In some cases the surgical site needs time to heal which takes about two months.

Do I have to go without teeth?   
No, your dentist can provide a temporary option while the implant is healing.  If you already have a denture it can be modified to allow the implants to heal.

Can implants help my dentures? 
Yes.  All dentures can benefit from dental implants however lower dentures especially benefit because they offer additional stability.

I lost all of my teeth.Can I have a prosthesis that isn’t removable? 
It depends on a number of factors but many patients are candidates for a denture or other types of restorations that aren’t removable.

Will I need a bone graft?
When teeth are lost bone is resorbed by the body in the area.  In order to place a dental implant in the correct position rather than where adequate bone exists a bone graft is performed to build bone for the future implant.

Why are implants so expensive?
Successfully replacing a tooth that is lost generally involves a surgeon, dentist, and dental laboratory to place the implant, design the tooth, fabricate the tooth, and deliver the tooth.  There are many hours spent by the surgeon, dentist, and lab technician to give an ideal result.  In many cases implant parts are custom made for each patient which requires time and skill.

How are dental implants placed?
The site is carefully evaluated and the implant is planned prior to placement to give an ideal result.  Dental implants can be placed with local anesthesia, nitrous oxide, or I.V. sedation.  Our office uses the latest technology to place implants with cone beam CT guidance.