The thought of needing any type of surgery is less than comforting, but having your wisdom teeth removed is probably much easier than you think. At Summit Dental Center in Houston we have some thoughts to share with you as you consider what to do about your (or your teen’s) wisdom teeth.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Have to Be Removed? Is it Always Necessary?
No, it is not always necessary, but more often than not, the wisdom teeth do not have adequate room to come in properly. It’s common to see them come in partially, sideways or stay just under the gums. If they do find enough space to erupt, they can move the other teeth out of alignment which is never good – especially if you’ve previously invested in braces.
Wisdom teeth tend to come in and crowd the mouth, making it extremely difficult to keep them clean. They can be tough to reach with a toothbrush, much less floss. If food particles continuously get trapped between them, the gums can become infected with gingivitis or even periodontal disease. And let’s not forget about the high risk of cavities! In other words, problematic wisdom teeth can quickly lead to a “full mouth disaster” versus a simple extraction.
Does Anyone Get to Keep Their Wisdom Teeth?
Yes – it’s not common, but there are individuals with enough space to accommodate wisdom teeth. Assuming that the teeth are also easy to clean so that they stay free of tooth decay and gum disease, there is no reason to remove them.
There are a handful of patients who develop unusually small wisdom teeth that easily fit into the mouth but are misshapen (very pointy) and impractical for use, so they may end up being recommended for an extraction anyway.
Is It Common to be Missing Wisdom Teeth?
Yes – quite a few people are born without all four of their wisdom. Usually a panoramic (full mouth) x-ray will reveal this sometime during the teenage years. If one of your parents was missing a wisdom tooth, there’s a good chance that you will, too!
What If Your Wisdom Teeth Are Already In?
If your wisdom teeth are already erupted, then extractions are fairly simple. They can be done in-office with local anesthesia (i.e. you stay awake while only your mouth goes to sleep). A numbing gel is used prior to any dental injections to keep you comfortable at all times.
In many cases, patients opt for IV or oral sedation, virtually guaranteeing a 100% pain-free procedure. Summit Dental Center offers a full range of sedation options, from laughing gas to general anesthesia, to ensure your comfort at all times. Your dentist will discuss these options with you prior to the extraction.
Depending on the angle of the teeth and their roots — as well as the number of wisdom teeth to be removed — your appointment length may vary, but the process is generally quick (less than an hour to complete).
Unerupted/ Impacted Teeth
Wisdom teeth that are still under the gums are going to be more complicated to remove. An incision will need to be made to access them. While local anesthesia will be used to keep your mouth comfortable (and numb to any pain), many people prefer to use sedation options to “nap” through their visit.
Sedation for Wisdom Teeth Removal
Fear of the unknown is common, and many people get nervous about having their wisdom teeth removed. We take extra care to have rooms ready as soon as you enter, so that wait times are kept to a minimum.
For wisdom teeth removal, IV sedation or oral sedation are common. Most patients who opted for sedation tell us they don’t have any memory of the actual procedure. You will be required to bring a driver to the appointment with you, as sleepiness is common for the rest of the day.
Will You Need Stitches?
Wisdom tooth extraction sites are usually closed with stitches. Some dentists will use dissolvable ones that disappear on their own within a few days while others may ask you to come back in a week for suture removal.
After-Care at Home
Following these simple post-procedure instructions will go a long way in speeding up your recovery.
- Keep pressure with gauze over the extraction sites on the first day for 30 minutes
- Use ice packs on the outside of your jaw to help reduce swelling, especially for the first two days
- Take any pain medications or antibiotics as prescribed by your dentist
- Moist heat can be used if your jaw feels sore
- Diet should consist of soft foods and liquids until the gums feel healed
- Do not drink through a straw, spit, or smoke for at least three days as this could remove the blood clot and delay the healing process; this is crucial to avoiding a very painful condition called a “dry socket”
- Keep the extraction sites clean per your dentist’s instructions. You may be told to rinse on the second day with salt water or use a plastic syringe to irrigate gently until your gums are healed enough to brush.
- Wait another day, then brush and floss your teeth to keep bacteria levels down, carefully avoiding the sutured areas of your mouth
Follow-up After Surgery
Your dentist or oral surgeon may want to see you back in a few days, or they may tell you to call if you have any problems. Complications would include: prolonged swelling of the face, heavy bleeding that doesn’t stop, pain that is not managed by medication, or fever. If any sharp pieces are felt in the extraction sites, and they don’t go away within a day or two, a visit back to the dental office is in order.
While everyone heals differently, most patients feel back to their normal selves in just a few days.
At Summit Dental Center, we offer kind, compassionate care for all at seven convenient locations throughout the Houston area. Because everyone deserves quality dental care, we offer multiple convenient payment options as well as financing plans. Please call us today, and we will be happy to schedule your appointment and answer any questions you may have about wisdom tooth extraction.