Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars. Most people see these teeth erupt in their late teens or early twenties.
Sometimes wisdom teeth grow in and cause no problems. Often however the development of wisdom teeth can present a series of complications.
When wisdom teeth begin to erupt the flap of gum tissue that grows over the tooth is raised, creating a space for food to become trapped which can cause infection. Another common complication is misalignment of the wisdom teeth. Misaligned wisdom teeth can be angled towards or away from the second molars. This often causes the tooth to become ‘impacted’ only erupting partially or not erupt to the surface at all. This improper alignment can cause crowding and potentially damage adjacent teeth, the jawbone or nerves.
Early detection through dental x-rays allows us to predict future problems and prevent them, often through removing the misaligned or ‘impacted’ wisdom teeth. Our team will keep a close eye on the development of your wisdom teeth during your regularly scheduled visits.
If you feel or notice any of the following, contact your dentist immediately:
- Pain or stiffness near the back of your mouth.
- Pain or irritation from a tooth coming in at an awkward angle and rubbing against your cheek, tongue, or top or bottom of the mouth.
- An infected swelling in the flap of gum tissue that has formed on top of an impacted tooth that has partially broken through the gum.
- Crowding of other teeth.
These symptoms usually develop between the ages of 15 and 25 and can be signs of other problems, making regular visits to your dentist integral to your oral health.
Wisdom Tooth Removal
The removal of wisdom teeth has become quite common, especially to avoid complications from overcrowding. Before your tooth is extracted, the tooth and surrounding gums will be numbed with a local anesthetic. This anesthetic can be complimented with our relaxation options if they are needed. This can take the form of nitrous oxide or laughing gas, an oral sedative, or even an intravenous sedative.
The tooth is removed just like any other tooth if it has completely erupted through the gums. If it is still sitting under the gums, we will make a small incision to remove the tooth. We will explain this in more detail before your procedure.
Recovery from a Wisdom Tooth Extraction
We will monitor you in a recovery room immediately after the extraction. Depending on the type of sedative used, you may need someone to drive you home after the procedure.
You may experience the following in the first 24 hours:
- Bleeding will occur for several hours after the removal of the tooth. We recommend placing a piece of gauze over the area and biting down to apply pressure. Avoid rinsing, sucking, or spiting for the first 24 hours as it will interfere with the formation of much needed blood clots to stop bleeding.
- Facial swelling is common in the area where the tooth was removed. You can place an icepack over the swelling for 10 minutes, then remove for 20 minutes and repeat as necessary.
- Over-the-counter medication may be used to alleviate some discomfort (ask us before you take any medication). Your dentist may prescribe a more potent medication to help with any discomfort.
- Food should be chewed as far away as possible from the site of extraction. Avoid hot liquids and alcohol for at least 24 hours. In the case of a difficult extraction consume soft or liquid foods for the first 24 hours (We will discuss this with you if it applies to you).
- Continue to brush your teeth but avoid the teeth directly next to the site of extraction. Do not use mouth wash as it can irritate the extraction site.
Full healing can take some time to occur. We will provide you with care instructions to follow after the procedure. Your mouth should be comfortable enough to resume normal eating and brushing after a week or two. If you are concerned that your recovery is not proceeding normally, call our dental office immediately.