Interestingly your wisdom teeth, often known as third molars, are the last teeth that erupt in your mouth. You will usually get them in your teens or your early twenties. If they erupt smoothly and without interruption and pain, they can prove to be an asset. But the problem is that they do not erupt straight and are often misaligned. So wisdom tooth removal or extraction becomes compulsory.
Proper oral hygiene, routine check-ups, and regular dental clean are all important for lowering your risk of dental issues. And since your dental health affects your overall well-being, you would want to make it easier to get preventive care.
If these third molars are poorly aligned or are impacted, they can harm or damage your adjacent teeth. Hence in this article, we discuss in detail why wisdom tooth removal becomes essential in specific conditions.
What Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery?
Wisdom teeth removal is primarily a surgical procedure to extract your third set of molars. Most individuals have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, meaning the tooth does not erupt normally as it does not have enough room to grow.
The wisdom teeth are four permanent adult teeth situated at the back corners of your mouth on the top and bottom. These teeth erupt during your late teens. However, there are instances of them erupting in late adulthood.
If you get them removed at the right time, there are lesser chances of them causing infection and tooth pain. You should also extract them not to damage your surrounding teeth and bones, as most wisdom teeth have less space to grow.
Wisdom teeth removal surgery is often an outpatient procedure. Your oral surgeon or dentist typically performs the procedure. Your dentist might recommend this surgery if an exam and X-rays reveal that your wisdom teeth are impacted or might cause dental issues in the future. Impacted or misaligned teeth might cause problems for you if they are not extracted now.
At the time of the surgery, your dentist will cut into your gums and remove the tooth. The tooth might be removed either as a whole tooth or in pieces.
You will be under anesthesia during the procedure, which could include nitrous oxide or intravenous sedation. Your dentist rightly decides which sedation to use based on the number of extractions and complexity required.
Potential Risks of Wisdom Teeth Removal
The wisdom tooth extraction process is generally straightforward if performed before the age of 20 than performed at a later age. Age will not stop you from getting your wisdom teeth removed, but it can complicate matters.
At a young age, your tooth roots are not fully formed. Therefore, it makes them easier to extract and faster to heal. With age, the roots of your teeth become curved, longer, and more challenging to extract.
Potential risks – some of the complications of your wisdom teeth removal surgery may include:
- Dry socket. It is a painful condition if a post-surgery blood clot gets dislodged from the extraction site. The condition might cause your bones and nerves underneath to become exposed.
- Sinus problems
- Oral infection
- Irritated nerves
What Problems Can a Wisdom Teeth Cause?
There are chances your wisdom tooth is impacted. Impacted tooth means teeth remain intact in the soft tissues of your gum. In such a case, your third molar may partially break or erupt through your gums.
If they remain partially open, there are high chances of bacteria entering your tooth. This could cause infection around the teeth and lead to swelling of your jaw. Moreover, the misaligned wisdom tooth might make brushing and flossing difficult – making your tooth prone to tooth decay and gum disease.
The human mouth has four sets of wisdom teeth, two on each upper and lower jaw. Due to lifestyle changes, people rarely get wisdom teeth. This is because your jaws are not fully developed which restrains the wisdom teeth from growing.
Purpose of Wisdom Teeth Removal
During your routine check-ups your dentist will monitor the development of your wisdom teeth. Dental x-rays will be done to check the condition of the growing teeth.
Your dentist might discuss extracting them if they have become impacted or if there are causing problems like:
- Tooth decay
- Damage to surrounding teeth
- Periodontal disease
- Tooth loss
- Bone loss
Your dentist may suggest you remove the third molar even if you are not experiencing any of these signs and symptoms. This is done to stop potential problems before they start probably.
As you might be aware, wisdom teeth are located in an area that is difficult to clean. Therefore it becomes difficult to maintain good oral hygiene with them.
If extraction becomes essential, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon who would perform the procedure. The surgeon will initially schedule a consultation and examine the X-rays to confirm the scope of your surgical needs.
During this period, if you experience a dental emergency, like loose teeth or fever, severe wisdom tooth pain, do not wait for the surgery date. Visit your dentist immediately.
Wisdom Teeth Removal – Is it Important?
It is not always necessary to remove your wisdom teeth as long as they are not causing any problem. Your dentist might only suggest removing them if they are causing crowding or are impacted. If your jaw does not have enough room to grow, it might erupt at a wrong angle damaging the adjacent tooth.
Your dentist may always advise you to remove your third molar at an early stage. This is generally because as you age, the bones in your mouth become harder.
As a result, your dentist will have difficulty removing it. If you delay the procedure, it can also lead to painful surgeries and heavy bleeding post-surgery. In some cases, it can even cause a minor loss of movement in your jaw.
What to Expect on the Day of Surgery
Once you arrive at your oral surgeon’s office he might perform dental X-rays again on the day of surgery if necessary.
During the Surgery
The wisdom tooth removal surgery should last for about 45 minutes. With anesthesia, you will not experience any pain or discomfort. Depending on the type of sedation your dentist uses, you might be asleep or conscious during the surgery.
These are the steps for a wisdom teeth removal procedure:
Sedation: If your dentist has given nitrous oxide, you will be fitted with a small mask over the nose to inhale the sedative. The sedative would allow you to be awake but remain relaxed. If intravenous (IV) sedation is used, the sedative is administered via your arm just before the surgery.
Numbing: After sedation, your surgeon will start the procedure by numbing the wisdom teeth and their surrounding tissues using local anesthesia.
Tissue removal: Your surgeon will clean and remove any gum tissue covering the area where your wisdom tooth is located. This step will ensure that your surgeon can access the tooth.
Bone removal: Your impacted wisdom teeth could be partially or fully covered with bone. In such a case, your dentist will use a high-speed handpiece to drill through and remove the bone that covers your tooth.
Loosening and sectioning of the tooth: Once your impacted wisdom teeth are visible, your dentist will use various surgical instruments to loosen the teeth gently. Your teeth will be loosened from any connective tissue in the tooth’s socket. Your oral surgeon might cut the tooth into sections to remove them easily.
Tooth removal: Once the tooth is loosened or has been completely sectioned, it is ready to be extracted. Your surgeon will use surgical instruments to remove the tooth fully.
Stitches: After removing the tooth, your oral surgeon might stitch the wound to shut up the treated area. This is often done when your surgeon feels that the individual will heal faster with stitches in place. These stitches will dissolve after a few days.
After the Surgery
Once your dental procedure completes, the nitrous oxide gas or IV drip flow stops so that you slowly come out of sedation. Your dentist might provide gauze pads in your mouth to soak up some of the blood.
The gauge helps the blood clot in the treated area. Immediately after the extraction, you might feel mild effects of the anesthesia, including nausea, dizziness, and shivering.
Your doctor might recommend you to rest in the recovery room, where experts are monitoring you. Once your condition is stable, you can go home.
Usually, you will spend less than an hour in the recovery room. After surgery, you might feel swelling around the teeth. You might not feel much pain immediately because of medication. But the pain might increase as the local anesthesia slowly wears off a few hours post-surgery.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery
For the first 24 hours post-surgery, you should avoid rinsing your mouth vigorously. You should also avoid using mouthwash with alcohol or drinking alcohol.
After surgery, you should avoid brushing your teeth close to the extraction site. You can use a soft manual toothbrush and gently brush your teeth.
Some bleeding, pain, and swelling in your cheeks and mouth are likely to persist for a few days. You might not be able to open your mouth fully for a few days.
At times the surgery site might take more than six weeks to heal. But you can resume normal activities the next day. You should consciously avoid strenuous activity for a few days after the surgery to avoid hurting the area. Also, avoid smoking during the healing period.
If you experience severe pain, you can try over-the-counter pain medicine. These medicines are usually effective for pain after wisdom tooth extraction. If you want temporary relief, you may try using a bag of ice or a cold, damp washcloth on your face to help with swelling and pain.
The Bottom Line
Wisdom tooth removal is a standard dental procedure, and the complications are rare. For a successful recovery, you should follow the postoperative instructions from your dentist closely. Particularly during the first seven to ten days following your surgery.
You probably would not need a follow-up appointment after your tooth extraction if no complications arise during the procedure. Ask questions so that you might fully understand how to care for yourself during this period.