All You Need to Know About Wisdom Teeth Removal
Getting wisdom teeth removal done is a relatively common surgery experienced by many teenagers and adults. Your wisdom teeth are the 4 permanent adult teeth located at the very back of your mouth, and many people often experience issues with their wisdom teeth due to a lack of room for them to grow. Impacted wisdom teeth can result in dental problems like shifting of other teeth, pain, and even infection. Wisdom teeth removal is often recommended by dentists even if you aren’t experiencing any of these issues just yet as a preventative measure.
If wisdom teeth removal has been recommended to you or a family member, read on to determine what some of the reasons for removal are, how to prepare for your surgery, and what types of aftercare to take into account.
Reasons for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Wisdom teeth normally grow in between the ages of 17 and 25 and are usually the final permanent teeth to appear. For some, wisdom teeth might never grow in at all, and for others, they might grow in normally and cause zero issues. However impacted wisdom teeth are very common, and if you have an impacted wisdom tooth it might result in the following issues which would bring on a wisdom tooth extraction:
- Wisdom teeth emerge angled towards the back of the mouth
- Wisdom teeth emerge angled towards other molars
- Wisdom teeth become trapped within the jawbone
- Wisdom teeth grow at a right angle within the jawbone
If your wisdom tooth becomes impacted, there is a large possibility that it might result in various issues which can have a long-term impact on your teeth. If you develop any of the following symptoms from your impacted wisdom teeth, then it is likely that you will need to have a wisdom tooth extraction:
- Trapped debris behind the wisdom tooth
- Decaying wisdom tooth
- Gum disease
- Shifting of surrounding teeth
- Development of cysts adjacent to the wisdom tooth
- Pain or discomfort
Preventative Wisdom Teeth Removal
There are a lot of differing opinions when it comes to wisdom teeth removal as a preventative measure. Many dentists feel that it is unnecessary to undergo wisdom teeth extraction if the grown in teeth have not caused any issues. However proponents of preventative extraction claim that even if wisdom teeth are asymptomatic, they can still carry diseases and it’s often extremely challenging to clean them properly. Additionally, many dentists say that while wisdom teeth may not be causing issues when someone is a teenager, there might be challenges that are developed later in life, at which point the extraction surgery is much more complicated and challenging. So with this rationale, it makes more sense to remove them at a younger age than to wait until adulthood where there might be further unnecessary complications.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Complications
The extraction of wisdom teeth is a relatively simple procedure that poses minimal risk and rarely involves complications. The majority of potential complications involve the sockets or the areas that the teeth have just been removed from. These complications might include painful dry sockets, or bone exposure if there are clotting problems from the surgery wound socket. There is also the potential for infection within the socket caused by bacteria or food debris, and the possibility of damage to adjacent teeth or nerve endings.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Preparation
Depending on how impacted your wisdom teeth are, and what type of symptoms you’re exhibiting, the wisdom teeth extraction might be done either by your dentist or by an oral surgeon. Your symptoms and the type of removal will also dictate whether or not the procedure is done simply using local anesthesia, or if sedation is required for the operation. When you’re having your consultation before the procedure, there are a few questions that it’s important to remember to ask. Make sure you’re aware of the number of wisdom teeth that are being removed and what specific reasons are necessitating their removal. Also check in about what type of anesthesia is being used, how long the procedure will take, and what type of risks are involved for someone who is undergoing the type of extraction that you will be undergoing.
Wisdom teeth extraction is normally performed as outpatient surgery, meaning that you will be able to return home the same day, and you should arrange for transportation after the procedure as you will likely still be experiencing the impacts of the drugs required for the operation. It’s also important before you undergo the procedure to make sure you’re fully aware of all the other types of preparation, such as whether or not you should fast before the procedure and whether or not you should avoid prescription medication or any specific nonprescription drugs.
The Removal Procedure
The general process for wisdom teeth removal is relatively simple. The dentist or oral surgeon will first make an incision in the gum tissue exposing the bone and tooth, remove the bone that protects the root of the tooth, and then remove the tooth. After this, the socket, or surgery pocket where the tooth once was, is fully cleaned and any debris is removed. The wound is then often closed with stitches, however, this might not always be required, and is dependent on your specific case. Finally, gauze is used to help minimize bleeding and promote blood clotting.
As was previously mentioned, the type of anesthesia used during the surgery is dependent on how complex the procedure is. With local anesthesia, you’re awake during the removal of the wisdom teeth, however, the area has been numbed so you won’t experience any pain during the process. With sedation anesthesia, you’ll have little to no memory of the procedure and will also receive numbing around the extraction site, however you will be awake during it. Finally, general anesthesia might be used in specific cases where it’s required for the patient to be unconscious. If you receive general anesthesia, you will experience no pain and have no memory of the procedure.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Aftercare
There are several aftercare instructions when it comes to wisdom teeth removal, so it’s important to get all of this information beforehand so that you can properly prepare for your recovery. If possible, have a trusted friend or family member on hand after the procedure to help you manage the aftercare process. Aftercare instructions from your dentists or oral surgeon will generally include the following advice:
- Pain management post-surgery might take the form of either prescription or over-the-counter medication depending on your specific procedure. Make sure to follow the instructions related to pain relief avidly, and if you need some additional support, holding a cold compress or ice pack to the jaw can also help alleviate some of the pain.
- Swelling of the cheeks normally improves after 2 to 3 days, with bruising often taking a few additional days to heal. Using an ice-pack or cold compress can also help to minimize swelling during the recovery stage.
- Gauze should be replaced over the removal site as per the instructions of your dentist or oral surgeon. During the first few days after surgery, it is normal for some bleeding to occur, however, do your best to avoid excess spitting as you don’t want to accidentally dislodge the clots that have formed to help the extraction site heal.
- It’s recommended to avoid strenuous activities for at least a week after wisdom teeth removal. You should also plan to take the full day off for the procedure, and don’t count on being ready to work later that day. Chances are you will likely still be pretty out of it from the pain and medication.
- Soft foods such as smoothies or applesauce are recommended for the first full day after surgery. Following this, semi-soft foods can be consumed like mashed potatoes, soups, etc. Avoid foods that are particularly hard or spicy as they can irritate the recovery site. Make sure in the first 24 hours after surgery you’re also avoiding alcohol and hot beverages. Be sure to also avoid smoking for the 3 days after surgery as tobacco products can increase the risk of dry sockets and other complications.
- Make sure you keep an eye out for any warning signs of complications. Such warning signs include but are not limited to: fever, difficulty swallowing, excessive bleeding, worsening swelling, feelings of numbness, and pus emerging from the socket.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
While wisdom teeth removal might be a daunting endeavor to many people, the important thing to remember is that it’s an extremely common procedure that experienced dentists and oral surgeons perform for many different patients daily. If you have questions about wisdom teeth extraction, or if you’re looking for an expert dentist to do a consultation, give us a call at Englewood Dentistry.
Our expert and professional staff will work with you to ensure that all of your dental health needs are taken care of. Get in touch to book your appointment today, and let us provide exceptional dentistry services to you and your family!