Over three million people have their wisdom teeth taken out every year.
If your dentist has talked to you about the possibility of wisdom teeth extraction, we understand that you might feel a bit anxious about the procedure. You might even wonder whether or not it’s truly necessary.
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about not only why wisdom teeth removal is so important, but also what you can expect out of the procedure.
Understanding what actually happens during the procedure, as well as what the recovery process will look like, can help to quell your nerves. You’ll also have a better idea of any questions you’d like to ask your dentist.
Read on to master the basics of wisdom teeth extraction.
Signs You Need to Consider Wisdom Teeth Removal
Of course, your oral surgeon is the most qualified person to tell you when the time is right to have your wisdom teeth extracted.
That said, there are a few signs you can be on the lookout for and inform your dentist of.
Have you been dealing with serious pain when eating?
Food may have gotten stuck between your gums and the tops of your wisdom teeth. This pain could also be caused by incorrect growth and overcrowding due to the appearance of your wisdom teeth. After all, your mouth now has to make space for thirty-two teeth, not just twenty-eight!
Especially if you’re experiencing severe pain in the jaw and at the tooth site, it may be time to discuss the possibility of extraction with your dentist.
You may also deal with severe halitosis or bad breath in plain English.
This often happens because your wisdom teeth can make it tough for you to properly clean the rest of your teeth and gums. This may even lead to cavities and inflamed, bleeding gums. It’s especially important to act quickly if you suspect cavities and tooth decay, as this can easily infect other teeth.
Many people don’t realize that the bacteria found in cavities can also spread to other parts of the body, including the heart. The truth is that tooth decay is an issue that can and does impact your overall health.
Interestingly, sinus issues are also a sign that you need to consider wisdom teeth extraction.
Because teeth are growing in the upper part of your jaw and developing roots, they actually end up pressing against your sinuses. If you’ve experienced an uptick in congestion and sinus headaches in addition to tooth pain and the other symptoms we’ve listed here, now is the time to see your dentist.
Why Wisdom Teeth Removal Matters
We understand that no one likes the thought of having to undergo surgery.
However, in order to protect your oral and even overall health, wisdom teeth extraction is something you can’t put off.
Wisdom teeth (which are actually the third row of molars) become impacted because your mouth simply doesn’t have the space for them.
This can cause wisdom teeth to grow at strange, painful angles. Sometimes, they can’t break through your gums at all, resulting in fully impacted wisdom teeth. Even if they are only partially impacted (meaning you’ll only spot a part of the crown poking through the gums) they still need to be removed.
Unlike developing great flossing and brushing habits, there’s really nothing you can do to stop the development of impacted wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, it all really boils down to luck. Some people don’t need to have their wisdom teeth taken out because they just happen to come in correctly. Others are fortunate enough to have been born without wisdom teeth at all.
If left untreated, wisdom teeth can cause the other teeth in your mouth to become crooked — even after you’ve had braces or other corrective orthodontia. These teeth can also create painful cysts in your jawbone, which can put intense pressure on your nerves. In extreme cases, a cyst may develop into a benign tumor, which will require extensive surgery to remove some of the bone and tissue surrounding it.
A failure to remove wisdom teeth can also lead to increased tooth decay and gingivitis, gum disease, and serious bacterial infections in the mouth.
What to Expect from the Procedure
Now that you know more about why you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, let’s talk about what you can expect from the actual procedure.
Remember that the entire process will only take one day, and you’ll be given local or general anesthesia to ensure you don’t experience any pain during the surgery itself.
You and your oral surgeon will talk about any health conditions you have and medications you take before the surgery. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about both the surgery and the recovery process. It’s normal to feel a bit apprehensive the day of the surgery.
Most extractions take only about one hour.
If your wisdom tooth hasn’t broken through your gums, a tiny incision is made so that the surgeon can reach it. In some cases, the surgeon will also need to remove a small section of bone that covers your tooth.
Depending on the size and the angle of the tooth itself, it may actually need to be cut into smaller pieces and removed. After the tooth is out, the area is thoroughly cleaned to prevent infection.
If an incision was required, you’ll get stitches to seal your gums back up. The surgeon will also put gauze over the area to allow a blood clot to form.
The Recovery Process
We’ve all seen those silly videos of patients getting out of their wisdom teeth surgeries, still feeling some of the effects of anesthesia.
While these videos are certainly entertaining, they’re also a good reminder of why you should have a friend drive you home afterward. Once you get home, you’ll begin to regain a bit of feeling in your mouth. You may experience pain and swelling, but it’s important to refrain from touching your mouth to avoid spreading bacteria.
On the day of your surgery, you can use an ice pack to help to manage the pain and bring down the swelling. You should rest for the remainder of the day. In some cases, your surgeon may give you prescription painkillers and other medication to take in the days following your surgery. You should use this medication only as directed.
Familiarize yourself with the signs of an allergic reaction to these painkillers, and stop taking them if you experience an allergy.
You’ll need to be careful about what you eat in the days following surgery. Hard foods are certainly to be avoided in the first few days, as is coffee, alcohol, and of course, cigarettes.
Soft foods like milkshakes, lukewarm soup, jello, and yogurt are ok to eat. If you’re drinking a smoothie, refrain from using a straw.
In the majority of cases, you’ll be totally healed from your wisdom teeth extraction surgery in about three or four days.
However, if your teeth were severely impacted or growing at sharp angles, recovery could take up to a week. Remember that it will take the wound from the surgery a few weeks to heal, so you’ll need to be cautious and proactive when it comes to preventing infection.
We suggest that you avoid hitting the gym too hard, spitting, using a straw, or eating tough foods for a few weeks after your procedure.
You also need to ensure you’re caring for the wound and your teeth properly. Your dentist will give you more specific instructions, but you should rinse your mouth with salt and warm water about five or six times every day after the surgery.
Your dentist may also tell you to avoid brushing and flossing your teeth the night of surgery. When you do resume brushing, be especially gentle.
If you experience bleeding in the mouth, you can use a bit of gauze to gently dab the area. If bleeding persists or becomes more severe, get in touch with your dentist at once.
Are You Ready for Your Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
We hope that this post has helped you to understand why wisdom teeth extraction matters, as well as what you can expect from both the surgery and the recovery process.
Above all, ensure that you’re working with a dental professional that has experience, an excellent bedside manner, and who can fully explain the procedure to you.
Are you ready to talk to a dental professional about your wisdom teeth? Dealing with another dental issue that you’d like a professional opinion about?
If so, then schedule an appointment with our practice today.
We’re committed to providing you with the best possible care, ensuring that you know what to expect out of any dental procedure, and helping you to understand how to take the best care of your teeth and mouth.