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