Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom teeth - we all have them, but when is it time to keep them or leave them? At your last dental checkup, your dentist may have advised you it's time for their removal. While this can leave you feeling apprehensive, you'll find the removal process for wisdom teeth is common and simple. Using a dentist near me search, you can find several qualified dentists and oral surgeons in your area capable of performing a wisdom tooth extraction. Having an exam is the first step, whether you're experiencing potential symptoms for their removal or not. From there, your dentist or oral surgeon will guide you through the wisdom teeth removal process.
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars living far back in your gumline on your upper and lower jaw. They generally lie below the gum line and grow pushing on your teeth as they try to erupt from the gum line. Typically, this happens for patients around the ages of 17-25. Your dentist will use an X-ray to determine where your wisdom teeth are growing, and where they might impact your teeth. Not every patient has to remove their wisdom teeth, but most do as their oral health can be negatively impacted by these large molars.
Reasons for Wisdom Teeth Removal
There are a few reasons, either single or combined factors, as to why your dentist might suggest wisdom teeth removal. It takes a trained eye and a proper dental X-ray to tell which way these molars are going to impact your teeth. It's best to have this checked in your late teens, as it can help with fewer complications down the road.
Not enough room: Sometimes, there's just not enough room for all those teeth! Your wisdom teeth are your last set of teeth to come in and having enough space in your jaw can be difficult. If your jaw begins to curve where your wisdom teeth would develop in, there most likely isn't enough space.
Impacted teeth: Often when wisdom teeth are coming in, they can impact the teeth around them. This is especially true when there isn't enough room. The wisdom teeth will still push forward in an attempt to grow into their positions. However, depending on how this takes shape, it can push on the other molars in your mouth. They can also become trapped, causing pain and discomfort in your gums and jaw. Wisdom teeth are often a common toothache symptom, which you should have looked at by a dentist to determine if they'll need to be removed.
Gum disease and cavities: Wisdom teeth lie far back in your gumline, making it a difficult spot to reach and clean. They can also come too close to your molars, pushing into them or coming in at an angle that make brushing and flossing difficult. When this is left to circumstances, patients may find they've started to develop cavities and gum disease. You'll need to remove them to allow for proper oral hygiene.
Your Wisdom Teeth Consultation
You'll need to have an oral exam performed by your dentist to determine if it's time for wisdom teeth removal. As there are many reasons why you might need your wisdom teeth removed, it's always good to fully understand them before going through with surgery. During a consultation, your dentist or oral surgeon will determine the factors behind your wisdom teeth removal and go over the procedure based on the state of your teeth. Go over any medication you take with your oral surgeon, as well as your medical history. Wisdom teeth removal is generally done by surgery, so it's important to give your oral surgeon all the facts to avoid any complications. Here are some other questions that are good to ask during your consultation:
Why do I need my wisdom teeth removed?
Remember that the factors behind removal aren't the same for everyone. Understanding this can help you be knowledgeable in your oral care and lessen any anxiety you may be having about the procedure. It will also help you be prepared for any complications that can arise during the removal process.
Which teeth are being removed?
Not all your wisdom teeth may need to be removed. Sometimes there might be space in your upper jaw and not your lower, or vice versa. Whatever the circumstances, your oral surgeon may only be removed some of these molars and not all of them.
Will I be put under?
Extraction processes can vary. Sometimes your dentist or oral surgeon may provide you with a local anesthetic, and other times they may prefer to give you anesthesia. Generally, if you're having more than one tooth removed you will undergo anesthesia. If this is the case, you'll want to coordinate transportation to and from your surgeon's office prior to surgery.
How long does it take to heal?
Your dentist or oral surgeon can advise you on how long it might take for your mouth to heal. Knowing this beforehand will allow you to coordinate your work or school schedule appropriately.
What if I just leave my wisdom teeth alone?
Understanding the consequences of leaving your wisdom teeth alone is crucial to your oral health. If left untreated, wisdom teeth can wreak havoc on the rest of your smile and health of your teeth.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Cost
The cost of your wisdom tooth removal can vary depending on the reasons behind it. If the surgery is fairly complicated, you can expect to pay a bit more than average removal costs. The good news is that most dental insurance plans will cover part of the cost of your wisdom teeth removal. There are also several affordable payment plans that patients can look for to help relieve the financial burden associated with the cost of surgery. Using a dentist near me search will give you several of our dental locations with financing plans to choose from.
Surgery can take up to 45 minutes, but you should schedule a few hours for the process. The length of time spent in surgery will depend on the reasons behind your need for wisdom teeth removal, how complicated the surgery will be, and the type of numbing agent used. Sometimes, your oral surgeon can just use a local anesthetic to remove sensation from the area where the tooth is being extracted. With this, you'll feel back to normal fairly quickly after the surgery. Other times, your oral surgeon may recommend you undergo sedation with an IV or mask so that you can sleep through the process. In this case, recovery straight after the surgery will take some time.
Your surgeon will most likely have to cut into your gum and bone to fully extract the tooth or teeth. Afterwards, they'll stitch the gap left behind so that your gums can heal. These stitches should dissolve a couple days post surgery. The surgeon will also have you bite down on gauze to apply pressure to the extraction area, allowing your blood to clot.
After your procedure, it's important to take it easy. Depending on the anesthetic used during your procedure, you may need someone to take you home. Because anesthesia affects everyone differently, it's important to give yourself at least a few hours to recover just to be safe. For the next 24-72 hours, you'll want to rest and drink plenty of water. If you've noticed some swollen cheeks, know this is perfectly normal and will subside within a few days. You can apply an ice pack to keep the swelling down. Try not to consume solid food or hot beverages straight after your surgery, as your mouth can't operate the way it normally would. Avoid foods that can get easily dislodged in your sockets, like nuts or chips.
Your doctor may advise you to refrain from using a straw or spitting forcefully a few days after surgery. This can dislodge the blood clot that has formed, and can lead to incessant bleeding and even dry socket, a painful infection that can happen after wisdom teeth removal. If you smoke, it's important to avoid doing so for at least a few days to allow your teeth to heal.
Dry socket is an infection that can occur post-surgery. As it can be prevented, we want you to know how to avoid this potentially painful infection should complications after your surgery arise. Dry socket happens when the blood clot that has formed where your tooth was extracted becomes dislodged, which can expose your bone and nerve endings. This is an extremely painful infection, and can cause fever or swelling. You'll want to visit your dentist if you think you've developed dry socket as it can be common to develop after surgery.
You can use a warm salt water rinse throughout the day to keep your mouth free of bacteria. Some dentists may advise that you refrain from brushing your teeth for at least 24 hours. Afterwards, you can brush and floss as normal, just avoiding the areas where your teeth have been extracted as this can also dislodge the blood clot. If you're experiencing pain, you can take over-the-counter painkillers to ease discomfort.
The healing process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, varying patient to patient. Drinking plenty of fluids and resting can help speed up the healing process. If you start to experience severe pain, pus, or a fever it could be a sign of infection. It's important to call your oral surgeon immediately to treat any infections that could have happened from the tooth extraction process.