Wisdom teeth are sort of like your appendix, except that they are located in your mouth: of no use to the modern human really, but capable of wreaking havoc. Because wisdom teeth, like the appendix, can do more harm than good, dentists often recommend wisdom tooth extraction to address and prevent future dental problems resulting from wisdom teeth.
Wisdom Teeth Can Cause Several Problems for Your Mouth
Wisdom teeth are not really essential for chewing anymore. They used to be, back in the day when humans had to grind up tough plant matter for nutrition, but not these days. Still, in many people they do erupt in the late teens to early 20s.
Unfortunately, it is very possible for wisdom teeth to get impacted. This happens when they force their way into an area with no room, therefore crowding your other teeth. This scenario may occur if the wisdom teeth grow in on their sides or at an angle, or they might maintain their lane but, rather than fully erupt, the jawbone traps them. The result is fluid-filled cysts, pain, or damage to nearby bones or teeth.
Another problem is the inability to accomplish proper teeth cleaning, which may result in periodontitis symptoms such as bleeding and swollen gums as well as bad breath. The Mayo clinic even points out that such a problem may make you experience difficulty when opening your mouth.
You (or your adolescent child) can expect to experience some pain from either of these occurrences. Wisdom teeth are likely to cause discomfort when they erupt, even when they do grow in properly. If they get infected, however, you can expect some severe soreness and toothaches, even painful abscesses. If you undergo such an experience, wisdom tooth extraction could be your only answer.
The First Step: A Dental Exam
Your dentist will perform an x-ray to study the state of your wisdom teeth: their positioning as well as room available for growth, regardless of whether you are experiencing pain or not.
If your dentist foresees any complications, or if you display any symptoms, you may need to schedule an appointment so he can extract the wisdom teeth.
No Pain, No Fear
Your Summit Dental Center dentist will apply a numbing agent to ease the pain. It may be sedation, general anesthesia, or local anesthesia. His recommendation from all these options depends on various factors, including your preference, your level of nervousness, your medical history, or his anticipation of the level of difficultness of the procedure.
Depending on the chosen type of anesthesia, you will be advised to avoid drinking or eating for a certain period prior to surgery.
After administering the anesthesia, your dentist will make use of a special instrument to detach the tissue neighboring your wisdom teeth, then extract them. Your dentist may opt to split the teeth into various sections to facilitate extraction. Thereafter, your dentist may stitch up the holes before covering them with gauze to promote blood clotting and healing.
Recovery: Expect Some Mild Discomfort
After your wisdom teeth removal, you will need to take it easy and give your wounds time to heal. The sedation may make you feel groggy, so it is a must to have someone drive you or take a taxi following surgery. Also, it is normal to experience some swelling after the procedure.
Some of the factors that determine post-procedure discomfort include the number of teeth extracted (for instance one or four) as well as the level to which your wisdom teeth were impacted. Either way, the gums adjacent to the surgical site will likely be sore for about a week. Barring any complications and the patient’s diligent adherence to the dentist’s discharge instructions, the discomfort should subside after one or two days.
In order to ease the discomfort, your Summit Dental Center dentist may send you home with a prescription for pain medication. Be sure to also follow your dentist’s instructions for using ice packs to assist in pain relief, and to minimize bruising or swelling.
Your Summit Dental Center dentist will also instruct that you only consume soft foods for the first day or two following surgery. While brushing your teeth is fine, be sure to avoid the surgical site, and gargle with salt water.
Avoid Dry Socket!
Your dentist will typically recommend that you stay hydrated, but stay away from straws for approximately two weeks.
Using a straw may result in what dental professionals call a “dry socket”, which is an excruciatingly painful condition whereby the blood clot covering an extraction site becomes dislodged, exposing nerves and bone. The other cause is brushing your teeth too forcefully or too soon post-surgery.
In the event of dry socket, your dentist may apply a medicated paste in it to enhance healing. In some situations, however, he may be forced to cover the socket using the tissue. Being the most common complication post wisdom tooth extraction, dry socket is characterized by extreme pain. Consequently, it is vital that you abide by all the outlined instructions.
Wisdom tooth extraction doesn’t have to be painful or become a major disruption in your life. Summit Dental Center offers a full range of sedation options to ensure your comfort during the procedure.
Recovery time from wisdom tooth extraction is shorter – and the risk of complications lower – in younger patients, so we recommend to most patients that they undergo the procedure in their teens or early adulthood. That’s because the older you get, the more developed your teeth’s roots become and the tougher the extractions become. As you age, your jaw also tends to have lesser vascularity, thus extending the healing period. Furthermore, the longer you wait, the more likely you are to develop abscesses and cysts on impacted wisdom teeth.
Do some people live just fine with their wisdom teeth? Absolutely! Unfortunately, however, most people do not. Talk to your Summit Dental Center dentist about your (or your child’s) wisdom teeth today by calling 713-425-0450!