You can think about your wisdom teeth in the same way you think about your appendix. They are there, but there is no real purpose for them, yet they can create utter chaos at the most inopportune time. This is why many dental professionals recommend individuals undergo a wisdom teeth removal surgical procedure, even in the event that the wisdom teeth aren’t creating issues for the person. Of course, there are some individuals that fail to follow the advice of their dentist. Wisdom teeth removal often isn’t a priority for people, especially if the teeth aren’t causing problems. However, depending on how the wisdom teeth are situated, these teeth may result in trouble for you and your mouth later on if you allow them to stay put.
Aren’t sure what your wisdom teeth are or if you even have them? Well, these molars may not even be present in your mouth yet—or at least where you can see them. They are at the very back of your mouth, and they’re flat teeth. They are not necessary for you to be able to chew, so not all people will develop them. However, in the event that you do, there are two on top and two on bottom, and they are the third and final set of molars that you will receive. Generally, they’ll erupt during your late teens or early 20s.
In some cases, these teeth will be impacted, which occurs when the teeth attempt to squeeze into a spot the lacks sufficient space for them, crowding the remainder of the teeth in your mouth. This may occur when the teeth grow in flat on their sides or at an angle, or they may grow in straight yet get trapped in the jawbone rather than fully erupting. All of these issues can result in complications like damage to the nearby bones or teeth, fluid-filled cysts, and/or pain.
In addition, you will likely find it more difficult to clean your teeth, leading to gum disease symptoms like bleeding gums, swollen gums, and bad breath. You may even find it difficult to open your mouth.
All of this can be painful. Wisdom teeth can cause some serious discomfort, even when they come in properly. In the event that they are infected, you may be in for some serious soreness and pain. And, if this is indeed the case, you can rest assured that the wisdom teeth will need to be extracted. To avoid all of this pain and discomfort, though, your dentist may recommend having the teeth removed before trouble can occur.
Regardless of whether or not you have pain, your dental professional will want to perform an X-ray to see exactly what is going on with these back molars, such as how they are positioned and how much room there is for them to come in. If you are experiencing any kind of symptoms or if they dentist foresees potential problems with the teeth, an appointment will be schedule for extraction. The extraction will be performed by either your regular dentist or an oral surgeon, depending on the results of the X-ray.
Thankfully, the removal of wisdom teeth is no big thing; it isn’t something that you would see in a horror movie. You will receive some sort of numbing medicine. For instance, you may receive local anesthesia, which will keep you awake and allow you to feel pressure but no pain, or you may receive sedation, which will also keep you awake with lessened consciousness though you won’t remember very much. Alternatively, you may receive general anesthesia, which will know you out completely and you won’t remember anything at all. The type of sedation that you receive will depend on the difficulty of the procedure and your own level of anxiety. Depending on the kind of sedation that you are receiving, you will need to avoid drinking and eating for a specific number of hours prior to the surgical procedure.
As soon as you are unable to feel pain, the dentist or oral surgeon will utilize a special instrument to begin to loosen and disconnect any tissue that surrounds the wisdom teeth and then pop them out. If necessary, he or she may divide the teeth into sections to make removal easier. It requires more finesse than actual force. The surgical sites will be stitches up, in most cases, and then gauze will be placed over the holes to help encourage clotting for proper wound healing.
Once the procedure is over, you will need to take things easy so that you can heal properly. Depending on the type of sedation you receive, you may feel a bit groggy after the surgery, so you will likely need someone to take you home. Don’t be surprised if you face is swollen and looks like one of those Snapchat filters. After a wisdom teeth removal surgery, it is normal to experience swelling, discomfort, and pain.
With that being said, though, your individual experience can range from feeling uncomfortable and being happy you have a day off work to feeling as if your mouth has been completely dislodged from your head. The level of post-procedure pain that you will feel will depend on multiple factors like how many of the teeth you had removed and how impacted they were. Regardless, though, the gums where the teeth were will be sore for roughly a week. As long as you don’t have any complications, the pain will get significantly better after a couple of days.
Some dental professionals will send you home with a prescription for painkillers, but to the opioid crisis, they are discouraged from doing this. Many will simply suggest alternating between acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Talk to your dentist or surgeon about an ice pack, as this can help reduce swelling, bruising, and pain. Depending on the severity of the extraction, you may be required to eat only soft foods for some time after the surgery.
Your dentist or surgeon will inform you to remain hydrated, but it is important that you avoid using a straw, especially for a couple of weeks, depending on the severity of the extractions. If you use a straw, you are putting yourself at risk of developing dry socket, which is an incredibly painful condition in which the blood clot over the extraction site becomes dislodged and exposes the nerves and bone. Dry socket can also occur if you clean your mouth too soon or too hard following the surgery, so make sure you to talk to your dental professional about how soon to start your oral hygiene routine back up based on your individual situation.
In the event that dry socket is developed, your dentist or surgeon can place a medicated paste into the socket to help encourage healing. However, in rare cases, he or she will need to go back in and attempt to close the socket with tissue. Dry socket is one of the most common complications following the extraction of teeth, and it is accompanied by significant pain, so it’s important that you follow your dentist’s or surgeon’s post-op instructions.
Your first step is to ensure that you choose a dentist or surgeon who is experienced in wisdom tooth extraction. If your regular dentist doesn’t remove wisdom teeth often, you may want to receive a referral for an oral surgeon.
In addition, in the event that you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, it is wise to have them removed when you’re younger as opposed to putting it off until you are older. The older that you get, the larger the roots get on your teeth, making the extractions more difficult. Plus, there will be less vascularity in the jawbone, making the healing process longer. Plus, the longer that the wisdom teeth stay in, the higher the chances are that you will develop abscesses and cysts.
If you still have that last set of molars and aren’t sure what you should do, schedule an appointment and talk to us at Fountain of Youth Dental. We will discuss your options with and develop a game plan with you.