Wisdom Tooth Extraction
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars in the back of your mouth (the ones closest to your throat). Most people have four of them (one on each corner of your jaw) but not everyone does. They usually tend to grow in between the ages of 17 and 25 years. If the wisdom teeth remains trapped in the bone, usually by a lack of space in the jaw, or grow crooked, the teeth are considered to be impacted and need to be removed, otherwise they can cause swelling and infections in the jaw, along with pain.
Wisdom teeth extractions are fairly common to to have removed. These teeth often cause problems while they try to protrude out of the gums while growing. Impacted wisdom teeth, whether trapped or crooked can cause pain, grow in unevenly, or only partially emerge.
If a wisdom tooth only emerges partially, a flap of skin, called an operculum, may form over the tooth. The operculum can make the tooth hard to clean, and pieces of food may be caught under the skin. This makes it easy for an infection, called pericoronitis, to develop. It will usually go away on its own, but it causes swelling and pain in the area.
Impacted teeth and wisdom teeth that can potentially cause problems, like infections, need to be removed. Extractions can range from a single tooth, to removing all four wisdom teeth at once. Based on the preference of the doctor and/or the patient, a local anesthetic could be used to numb the areas where the teeth will be extracted. Others will prefer to go under a general anesthetic so that they will be sedated during the procedure.
When is the best time to remove wisdom teeth?
If an x-ray shows wisdom teeth trying to find a way to develop but there is not enough space, your dentist will be able to determine when to remove them. However a lot of patients only realize they are developing wisdom teeth due to pain or swelling in gums. Age is also a consideration when deciding when to remove wisdom teeth, but your dentist can determine that based on your particular case. Sometimes they are also removed to prepare for orthodontic treatment.
Do all wisdom teeth have to be extracted?
Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed, it depends on the dental situation of each individual patient. Wisdom teeth typically do not need to be removed if they’re healthy, have grown in completely (meaning they’re fully erupted), are positioned correctly and bite properly with the opposing teeth on the upper or lower jaw, and are able to be be properly cleaned and flossed in a patient’s daily hygiene practices.
Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth
- pain in the jaw and side of the face
- difficulty in opening jaw
- unpleasant taste when eating and bad breath
- numbness in the jaw
- bleeding gums
The gum tissue around the wisdom tooth is cut open to reveal the tooth. The tooth is loosened by gripping it tightly and wiggling it back and forth until it can be lifted out of the gums. Sometimes a tooth may be impacted so tightly that it cannot be simply lifted out of the gums. In cases like this the tooth will be broken up into pieces first before being removed. Depending on the incision and extraction site, sutures may be needed to close the area. Soluble sutures are the best option, which will dissolve on their own.
After the surgery you will need to rest. You need to be driven home by a friend or family member because of the anesthesia. You can expect for the extraction site to bleed for a little while after the surgery. Gauze will be applied at the completion of the surgery, and you will need to change it when it becomes soaked. If bleeding continues for longer than 24 hours you should call your dentist. Rest when you return home, but do not lie flat. This could prolong the bleeding. Prop your head up on a pillow when lying down. Your dentist will prescribe you pain medication, so if you become sore take as directed. You can also use an ice pack for the pain. Your dentist might also provide you with a cleaning solution to clean the extraction site.
You will be limited to soft foods for a few days after your surgery. Some
recommended foods are:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Ice Cream
- Thin Soups
- ...and other food you can eat without chewing.
When drinking, make sure you do not use a straw. The sucking motion can loosen your sutures and slow the clotting process. The same goes for smoking. If you have prolonged pain, bleeding, irritation, or don't feel that the extraction site is healing properly call your dentist for a follow up.
Grand River Dental is experienced in performing tooth extractions and we try to make the procedure as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Please call us at (519) 896-2669 to schedule an appointment.
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