Wisdom Teeth Removal – When is it necessaryWisdom Teeth Removal: When is it necessary?
You went to a check-up and your dentist says it’s time to remove your wisdom teeth. They may do it themselves or, depending on the situation, they may refer you to an oral surgeon. The good news is this procedure is very common, recovery is usually quick, and most people can return to their daily activities in just a few days.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Your third set of permanent molars, also known as wisdom teeth – located in the very back of your mouth, in the upper and lower jaws – are the last adult teeth to emerge in your mouth. Wisdom teeth erupt usually between the ages of 17 and 21 and most people have all four of them. It’s estimated that 5% to 37% of people only have some of their wisdom teeth or none at all. Unfortunately, many patients don’t have enough room in their jaws to accommodate wisdom teeth.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
A theory suggests that wisdom teeth were necessary for our ancestors because of their hard diet, consisting mostly of uncooked meat, hard nuts, and crunchy leaves. Nowadays we eat more cooked soft food and use utensils to cut it into smaller pieces. Therefore, wisdom teeth are widely seen as vestigial structures.
Why Take Them Out?
Sometimes patients get lucky and all four wisdom teeth erupt normally, without causing any problems at all. But oftentimes most patients have them removed for one of these reasons:
● They’re impacted – because they don’t have enough space (your jaw has no room for an extra set of molars) they can remain partially or fully trapped in the jawbone or under the soft tissue, which can be painful;
● They come in at an angle – they press against your other teeth, damaging them and changing their position;
● Food gets trapped behind the wisdom tooth – this can often cause infection or gum disease;
● They develop cavities – molars, especially the last ones, are hard to reach with your toothbrush or dental floss and problems may appear;
● They develop a cyst – a fluid-filled sac that forms in the jaw bone over a tooth that hasn’t erupted yet;
● Orthodontic treatments – in certain orthodontic cases, dental extractions are required to establish a stable bite.
What Happens Before Wisdom Teeth Removal?
You will meet with me, Dr Kelly Tse and my team for a consultation and talk about the process. During this visit, you will have dental x-rays taken, and I will assess the health and position of your wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth extractions are usually done under local anesthesia, but depending on your specific needs, we can also offer IV sedation to make the process more comfortable. At this appointment the conversation is all about you, and we will discuss:
● Any medications, vitamins, or supplements that you’re currently taking;
● Talk about any existing health problems you have;
● Ask any questions about the procedure;
● Discuss what type of anesthesia you’ll have.
What Happens During Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
Before having your wisdom tooth extracted you’ll be given an injection of local anesthetics to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. If the tooth hasn’t emerged yet, a small incision will be made to access it and a small piece of the bone covering it may also need to be removed. You shouldn’t feel any pain as your wisdom teeth are extracted, just slight pressure in some cases.
What Happens After The Surgery?
Most patients have little to no pain after surgery. I may place a gauze swab over the extraction site and ask you to bite on it and, depending on the case, antibiotics plus some pain relief may be prescribed and you may have stitches that dissolve or will be removed later. Always follow your doctor’s instructions for a quicker recovery. Here are some tips for the first 3 days after your surgery:
- Some bleeding is normal and may occur the first day after the wisdom tooth extraction;
- Avoid drinking through a straw, smoking, or rinsing your mouth too harshly to prevent a vacuum that can dislodge the blood clot from the socket;
- Use an ice pack on your face for swelling and manage existing pain with an over-the-counter pain reliever or a prescription medication as directed;
- Eat soft foods like pasta, rice, or soup, try to avoid chilli and curries, plus remember to drink plenty of fluids;
- Avoid intense physical activity and alcohol consumption – these may loosen the blod clot from the socket;
- Brush your teeth starting the second day, be very gentle near the surgical wound and gently rinse your mouth with warm saltwater;
- Contact us if you experience excessive bleeding, fever, or severe pain.