What You Should Know about Wisdom Teeth Extraction
The removal of wisdom teeth is an extremely common practice nowadays, with many young adults expecting to lose their wisdom teeth without even knowing why. However, there are good reasons for extracting these teeth in some patients, and some certainly benefit from the procedure more than others.
By understanding why wisdom teeth may need to be removed, and through consultation with your cosmetic dentist, an informed decision can be made regarding extraction. Here is what you should know about this procedure, and why it is recommended for many of our Wilmington patients.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Unlike the rest of our adult teeth, the third and final set of molars does not begin to appear until late adolescence or early adulthood – usually between the ages of 17 and 25. These teeth are more commonly called wisdom teeth, as patients have already exited childhood before they come in.
Although a third set of molars was once useful for the dietary needs of early humans, our jaws have since evolved in a way that provides little space for them to properly grow. As a result, many people’s mouths are negatively affected by the eruption of wisdom teeth, often leading to a variety of dental problems. Dentists therefore suggest removal of the third molars if there’s any indication that they may result in future complications.
When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?
Whether wisdom teeth should be preventatively extracted depends on how they are expected to grow in. Ideally, dentists will track the progress of wisdom teeth during routine check-ups, through which a professional diagnosis can be given. Most potential problems come from a lack of adequate room in the mouth for new teeth, leading to any of the following:
- Wisdom teeth that are unable to erupt at all, leading to impaction, in which they are stuck beneath the gums. This can lead to additional problems, such as cysts, bone damage, and infection.
- Wisdom teeth that grow in partially, but portions of them are still stuck. In many instances, gum tissue grows over the partially-erupted teeth, leading to discomfort and possible infection.
- Wisdom teeth that grow at an improper angle, such as facing to the side or the back of the mouth.
- Wisdom teeth that grow into adjacent teeth, creating crookedness in the area and negatively affecting one’s bite.
If any of these problems are left to develop, they may require more costly and complicated restorative dentistry treatment. In order to prevent these risks, consult your dentist at, or prior to, the first indication of the growth of wisdom teeth.
If your wisdom teeth are recommended for removal, the extraction process can be performed in a single visit with few risks. Depending on the nature of your surgery, you may be given general anesthesia or a combination of local anesthesia and sedation beforehand. The procedure proceeds as follows:
- For each tooth to be extracted, a small incision will be made in the gum line.
- Soft connective tissues and, in some cases, pieces of bone tissue will be separated from the tooth, loosening it from the jaw.
- The tooth will be extracted, sometimes in pieces for easier removal.
- The incisions will be sutured and gauze will be applied to limit post-operative bleeding. Depending on the stitches used, they may dissolve on their own or need to be removed at a later date.
Risks and Recovery
After surgery, you may experience bleeding from the area throughout the rest of the day. The application of gauze and light pressure should be enough to control this; if bleeding persists after 24 hours, contact your dentist.
Throughout the first week of recovery, it is best to limit exercise and movement that forces you to lower your head. Additionally, a diet of soft foods is especially helpful for healing and to avoid re-opening the incisions. Similarly, avoid touching the area of surgery or irritating it while brushing. While patients experience varying degrees of discomfort, painkilling medication can be prescribed by your dentist for an easier recovery. In many cases, over-the-counter medication is enough to curb patients’ pain.
Although complications from wisdom teeth removal are rare, any oral surgery does pose a limited risk of infection. Any significant pain or inflammation that does not recede may be indicative of an infection, especially when accompanied by a fever. Consult your dentist if any signs of illness or similar complications are present.
Don’t Let Problems Grow
Not everyone requires the removal of their wisdom teeth, but only a professional and experienced dentist can help you make the right decision. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and learn how we can ensure the continued health of your smile.
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