Why We Need Our Wisdom Teeth Removed
Your wisdom teeth don’t appear until all your other permanent teeth are firmly established. Usually, people will get their wisdom teeth from age 17 until their early 20s. These large molars are great when they can come through without problems because extra teeth are always welcome! Unfortunately, all too often the mouth is already fully occupied when it is time for these teeth to erupt, which is why they frequently cause problems and must be removed. Some people will develop problems with their wisdom teeth while still in their teens, but others may not see any adverse effects until much later in life.
Common Wisdom Tooth Problems
Problems with wisdom teeth can include:
- When there is too little space for wisdom teeth to push through fully, they can get stuck underneath the gums or will try to push through underneath the adjacent tooth, and this is when a wisdom tooth is referred to as being impacted.
- Sometimes wisdom teeth will partially erupt, remaining covered partly with a flap of gum. The problem with partial eruption is that the wisdom tooth is very difficult to brush thoroughly. Often bacteria and food will become trapped underneath the gum, partly covering the tooth and increasing the possibility of tooth decay and infection. When the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth becomes infected, it’s a problem that is called pericoronitis, and it’s one of the most common reasons why wisdom teeth are removed. Pericoronitis can cause pain and swelling, but sometimes the symptoms are quite mild.
- Wisdom teeth are so far back in the mouth that many people struggle to brush and floss them thoroughly which can lead to problems with tooth decay. Initially, tooth decay may not cause any pain or discomfort, but eventually, a cavity can reach the nerve of the tooth right in the center, and there is the risk of a dental abscess forming. By this time the pain is likely to be significant!
- Just like any other tooth, wisdom teeth can become affected by gum disease.
- When teeth first form, they do so in a sac, and occasionally the sac can expand causing a cyst. Over time, the cyst may enlarge and cause problems. This type of wisdom tooth problem is very rare.
If you receive orthodontic treatment, then you will probably need to have your wisdom teeth assessed afterward. Wisdom teeth can affect the long-term efficacy of orthodontic treatment and could make it tricky to retain your teeth in the correct positions.
How Can I Tell If I Have Wisdom Teeth Problems?
If you are a regular patient here at Ivory Dental, then you can rest assured that our dentist Dr. Benjamin Hull will keep a close eye on all your teeth, including those yet to erupt. It is one reason why we take dental x-rays periodically because this will show Dr. Hull the location and orientation of teeth waiting to erupt. By closely monitoring your dental health, we can see if your wisdom teeth will cause problems and should be removed. Generally, it is easier and more desirable to remove wisdom teeth when people are younger and before the teeth have had a chance to fuse with the jawbone. However, wisdom teeth can be removed at any age. Dr. Hull has received extensive training and has lots of experience in removing wisdom teeth so you will be in good hands! Usually, we can remove wisdom teeth in our comfortable dental office, but if needed we can always refer you to an oral surgeon whom we trust to look after our patients.
Will Wisdom Tooth Removal Hurt?
We do everything possible to make sure all dental treatments provided here at Ivory Dental are as comfortable and pain-free as possible, including tooth removals. Sometimes when a wisdom tooth is removed, it is cut into smaller sections before it is taken out of the jaw, which is just one technique that will help ensure you feel less discomfort. The area is numbed before treatment begins, but if you do feel anxious or need several wisdom teeth removed, we can always provide additional sedation to help you relax. Dr. Hull can discuss your suitability for sedation dentistry and options available if you are interested. The actual surgery to remove wisdom teeth is quite quick, even if you need all four wisdom teeth removed. If you have sedation dentistry, then it may seem as if it’s only been a few moments since the procedure began. You might even sleep through it!
What to Expect After Wisdom Tooth Removal
If you received sedation dentistry, then you will need someone with you to take you home. After you have had wisdom teeth removed, then you may feel some discomfort or swelling for a few days, but most people have very little or no pain after surgery. It will take a few weeks for your mouth to completely heal, and you might wish to stick to softer foods for the first few days and which require minimal or no chewing. Good foods to eat include pasta and rice, as well as soup. If your face does feel swollen, use an ice pack to help reduce the swelling and any bruising. Moist heat can soothe a sore jaw. Be careful when brushing your teeth and avoid brushing the extraction site.
While your mouth heals, avoid eating very hard, sticky, or crunchy foods that could aggravate the surgery site. It’s important not to smoke while your mouth is healing because this can delay the healing process. Also, avoid drinking through a straw because the sucking action can loosen the blood clots that form in the empty tooth sockets. These blood clots are crucial for the healing process as they protect the empty socket against infection. If you do dislodge the blood clot, then there is a tiny risk you may develop a condition called dry socket, where the empty socket becomes infected and gradually more painful. It is a condition that is easily treated by cleaning out the infected socket, but it may delay your healing slightly.
Usually, the entire process to remove wisdom teeth is quick, smooth and uneventful. You can rest assured we will do everything possible to ensure that is your experience too!