Wisdom Teeth Surgery
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars, which start coming in between the ages of 17 and 25 in most people. Unfortunately, the arrival of these teeth often brings problems. About 5 million patients each year need to have one or more wisdom teeth extracted.
Most people choose to have their wisdom teeth removed between the ages of 15 and 25 when their tooth roots are not fully developed and their jaw bone is not as dense.
Reasons for Wisdom Teeth Surgery
Your dentist will perform a thorough examination and diagnostic tests such as x-rays or a CT scan to see whether your wisdom teeth should be removed. There are several reasons why you may want to have your wisdom teeth extracted. Here are some typical reasons why:
- Your jaw may not be large enough for the wisdom teeth to emerge from under the gums.
- The wisdom teeth are coming through the gums only partway or are coming in at an awkward angle, which can lead to infection.
- The impacted wisdom teeth are damaging the jaw bone or other teeth.
Whether it’s aimed at preventing future problems or to alleviate an existing condition, the extraction of wisdom teeth can be an effective treatment. Our dentists will be happy to talk to you about any questions you have.
The Wisdom Teeth Surgery Procedure
Wisdom tooth extractions are usually performed by a dentist or oral surgeon at the dental office. If you’re having only one wisdom tooth extracted, you may only need a local anesthetic. However, if you need to have multiple teeth extracted, a general anesthetic or type of conscious sedation may be administered. Your dentist or oral surgeon will discuss the best method for you.
If the wisdom tooth is impacted, meaning it’s still under the gum line, then the gum tissue at the extraction site will be opened and the tooth will be gently removed. The dentist or oral surgeon may need to apply sutures (stitches) to aid in healing. After the procedure is over, you will rest for a short time before going home. Typically, you’ll need another person to drive you, depending on the type of anesthesia you received.
After the Wisdom Teeth Surgery Procedure
It usually takes a few days to recover after having your wisdom teeth removed. During this time, you should rest when possible and take any pain medication prescribed by your dentist. You may experience some bleeding at the extraction site(s); this is normal and can be controlled by gently biting on gauze pads, changing them as needed, and keeping your head elevated on pillows rather than lying flat.
Your dentist may recommend you hold an ice pack on the outside of your cheek intermittently (5 minutes on, then 5 minutes off) to help reduce swelling on the first day after the procedure. Starting on Day 2, using a washcloth moistened with warm water may help you feel more comfortable. Your dentist may also recommend rinsing your mouth with warm salt water a few times a day to help alleviate any discomfort.
You may want to eat soft foods for a few days after the extractions, and you’ll need to be careful when brushing or putting anything in your mouth until your healing is complete. Your dental team will give you a list of any additional post-operative instructions to help you be as comfortable as possible while you heal.