Do you know that wisdom teeth, often known as third molars, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth? You will usually get them in your teens or early twenties. However, there are also instances of eruption in late adulthood. If they erupt smoothly and without any pain or interruption – then they can prove to be an asset. But the major problem with third molars is that they do not erupt properly or are misaligned. Hence wisdom tooth removal or extraction becomes compulsory.
If they are poorly aligned or are impacted, then they can damage your adjacent teeth. Hence we discuss why wisdom tooth removal becomes essential in specific conditions.
What Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery?
Wisdom teeth removal is generally a surgical procedure to remove your third set of molars. Most people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, meaning the tooth does not have enough room to grow naturally. If you get them removed, there are fewer chances of them causing issues. You should also remove them so that they do not damage the surrounding teeth and bones.
Wisdom teeth removal surgery is an outpatient procedure. Your dentist or oral surgeon typically performs the procedure. Your dentist will recommend this surgery if an exam and X-rays reveal that your wisdom teeth are impacted or might cause dental problems. Misaligned or impacted teeth might cause problems for you in the future.
During the surgery, your dentist will cut into the gums and remove the tooth, either as a whole tooth or in pieces. You will be under anesthesia, which could include nitrous oxide or intravenous sedation. Your dentist will decide which sedation to use based on the complexity and number of extractions required.
The wisdom tooth extraction process is more straightforward if performed before age 20 than a procedure performed at a later age. Age does not stop someone from getting their wisdom teeth removed, but it can complicate matters. Your tooth roots are not fully formed when you are young. Hence it makes them easier to remove and faster to heal. As you get older, the roots of your teeth become longer, curved, and more challenging to extract.
Potential risks – Some of the complications of wisdom teeth removal surgery might include:
- Dry socket. It is a painful condition that can occur if a post-surgery blood clot gets dislodged from the extraction site. The situation might cause your bones and nerves underneath to become exposed.
- Sinus problems
- Irritated nerves
What Problems Can a Wisdom Teeth Cause?
Your wisdom tooth is likely impacted. This means that your wisdom teeth remain intact in the soft tissues of your gum. In these scenarios, your third molar teeth may partially break or erupt through your gums. If they remain partially open, then the chances of bacteria entering the tooth are high. This could cause infection and lead to the swelling of your jaw (jaw pain) and your mouth. Moreover, the misaligned position of the wisdom tooth may become difficult to brush or floss, making your tooth prone to decay and gum disease.
Your mouth has four sets of wisdom teeth, two on each upper and lower jaw. Nowadays, due to lifestyle changes, people do not get wisdom teeth. This is because your jaws do not develop completely and properly, which restrains the wisdom teeth from growing.
Purpose of Wisdom Teeth Removal
Your dentist will monitor the development of your wisdom teeth during your routine appointments. Dental x-rays will be done often to see how the teeth are growing. Your dentist might discuss removing them if they have become impacted or if there are causing problems such as:
- Tooth decay
- Damage to surrounding teeth
- Periodontal disease
- Bone loss
- Tooth loss
Your dentist may suggest you remove the wisdom teeth even if you are not experiencing any current symptoms. This is done to stop potential problems before they start. As you know, wisdom teeth are in an area that is challenging to clean. Hence it is hard to maintain good oral hygiene with them in place.
Your dentist might refer you to an oral surgeon to perform the procedure. The surgeon will schedule a consultation and examine the X-rays to confirm the scope of your surgical needs. In the meantime, if you experience a dental emergency, such as severe tooth pain, loose teeth or fever, do not wait for the surgery date. Visit your dentist immediately.
Wisdom Teeth Removal – Is it Important?
It is not always necessary to remove wisdom teeth as long as they are not causing any problem. Your dentist would suggest removing them if they are impacted or causing crowding. Your jaw does not have enough space to grow; it will erupt at a wrong angle damaging the adjacent tooth.
Your dentist may advise you to remove your third molar at an early stage. This is generally because as you age, the bones in your mouth become harder. As a result, your dentist will have difficulty removing it. Delaying can also lead to painful surgeries and heavy bleeding. In some scenarios, it can even cause a minor loss of movement in your jaw.
What to Expect on the Day of Surgery
Once you arrive at your oral surgeon’s office he might perform dental X-rays again on the day of surgery if necessary.
During the Surgery
The wisdom tooth removal surgery should take about 45 minutes. With anesthesia, you should not feel any pain or discomfort. Depending on the type of sedation used, you might be asleep or conscious during the surgery.
These are the steps for a typical wisdom teeth removal procedure:
Sedation: If you are given nitrous oxide, you will be fitted with a small mask over your nose to inhale the sedative. The sedative would allow you to be awake but remain relaxed. On the other hand, if intravenous (IV) sedation is chosen, the sedative is administered via your arm before the surgery.
Numbing: After sedation, your surgeon or dentist starts by numbing the wisdom teeth and their surrounding tissues using local anesthesia.
Tissue removal: Your surgeon will remove any gum tissue covering the area where the wisdom tooth is located. This is done so that your surgeon can access the tooth.
Bone removal: Your impacted wisdom teeth could be partially or fully covered with bone. In such a scenario, your dentist will use a high-speed handpiece to drill through and remove the bone covering your tooth.
Loosening and sectioning of the tooth: Once the impacted wisdom tooth is visible to your dentist, he will use various surgical instruments to gently loosen the teeth from any connective tissue in the tooth’s socket. Your surgeon might also cut the tooth into sections to remove them easily.
Tooth removal: Once your tooth is loose or has been completely sectioned, it is ready to be removed. He will use surgical instruments to fully remove your tooth.
Stitches: After removing the tooth, your surgeon might add stitches to close up the area. This is often done when your dentist feels that the patient will better heal with stitches in place.
After the Surgery
Once your procedure completes, the nitrous oxide gas or IV drip flow stops and you will be brought slowly out of sedation. Your dentist will provide gauze for you to bite down. The gauge will help the blood clot in the area. Immediately after the surgery, you might feel mild effects of the anesthesia, including dizziness, nausea, and shivering.
You might have to rest in the recovery room, where experts will monitor you. Once your condition is stable, you can go home. Usually, you will spend less than an hour in the recovery room. After surgery, you will feel a swelling in the area. You might not feel much pain immediately. But it might increase as the local anesthesia slowly wears off a few hours after surgery.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery
For the first 24 hours after your surgery, you should avoid rinsing your mouth vigorously. You should also avoid drinking alcohol or using mouthwash with alcohol. Also, avoid brushing your teeth close to the extraction site. You can use a soft manual toothbrush and gently brush your teeth.
Some bleeding, pain, and swelling in your mouth are likely to persist for a few days after the surgery. For a few days, you might not be able to open your mouth fully.
At times the extraction site can take up to six weeks to heal. But the good news is you can resume normal activities the next day. Just avoid strenuous activity for a week after the surgery to avoid hurting the area.
If you have severe pain, you can try over-the-counter pain medicine, which is usually effective for pain after wisdom tooth extraction. For temporary relief, you might also try using a bag of ice or a cold, damp washcloth on your face to help with pain and swelling.
Wisdom tooth removal is a standard dental procedure, and, generally, the complications are rare. For a successful recovery, you need to follow the postoperative instructions you received from your dentist closely. Particularly during the first seven to 10 days following your surgery. Ask questions so that you might fully understand how to care for yourself during this time.