Why are wisdom teeth often removed?
Wisdom teeth (also known as the third molar) are the last set of permanent ones that develop and usually come out when we reach ages between 17 to 25 years old. There are four wisdom teeth-one pair at the back corners on top and one pair at the bottom. There are some cases, when a wisdom tooth grows, there are some observed problems and removal of one or more wisdom teeth is required.
Here are a few things to know about wisdom teeth removal:
• Reasons for removal of wisdom teeth:
Most people would prefer to have their wisdom teeth removed due to problems such as impacted wisdom teeth where the wisdom teeth do not have enough space to grow normally, and just stay trapped in the jaw bone or under our gums. There are other cases where the wisdom teeth grow at wrong/odd angles in the mouth causing abnormal teeth alignment.. As a result, one may experience pain, develop infection or gum disease, have tooth decay, get damage to the other teeth nearby, and have trapped food/food debris behind the wisdom teeth, develop cysts in rare cases, and other complications, thus removal is necessary. Another reason for removal is that a person’s mouth structure is too small to accommodate the wisdom teeth. Additionally, removal is sometimes recommended even without current concerns to avoid having oral problems in the future.
• Who removes the wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth removal is done by a dentist or an oral surgeon in a surgical procedure called wisdom tooth extraction.
• Is there an ideal age to have wisdom teeth removed?
Anyone at any age can have wisdom teeth removal, especially if it is causing oral health problems. But, most dentists would suggest having wisdom teeth removed in your late teen years or in your early twenties since during this time, the wisdom teeth are not yet fully formed. Extraction is less difficult and there is less chance of getting complications.
• How to prepare for wisdom teeth removal?
Like any other procedure or operation, proper consultation is required to plan for wisdom tooth extraction. Your dentist will first refer you to an oral surgeon to assess the condition of your wisdom teeth. X-rays will be needed for the surgeon to know the exact location of your wisdom teeth inside your mouth. Details such as your options for sedation will also be discussed, depending on your needs. This consultation is the time where you ask your concerns about the procedure and discuss any other health matters you might have. Make sure to let the surgeon know if you are taking certain medications including vitamins and supplements for consideration. Once your schedule has been set, plan to be away from work or any other commitments to give you time to recover after the surgery. Mostly, the hospital or dental facility will also give instructions to help you prepare for your wisdom teeth extraction.
• What happens during wisdom teeth extraction?
Wisdom teeth extraction usually takes around 45 minutes or less to complete and is mostly done as an outpatient surgery.. To make extraction less painful, the surgeon will apply anesthesia, and depending on your case and tolerance to pain, you’ll get either local, IV sedation or general type anesthesia.
During the extraction process, the surgeon or dentist will make cuts or incisions in your gum to show the target tooth and bone. The bone that impedes access to the tooth root will be taken out by the surgeon. The surgeon will have to divide the tooth into pieces to make it easier to extract. After the tooth is totally removed, the area where it was removed from will be cleaned to make sure no debris bone is left. Stitches will be made to close the wounds created if needed. Lastly, the doctor will place a gauze over the site of extraction to help control bleeding and promote blood clot in the wound (to stop bleeding).
• What to do after undergoing wisdom tooth extraction?
Depending on the type of anesthesia administered, you may be taken to a recovery room (for general and sedation anesthesia) or just be given a short time to recover at the dental chair for local anesthesia.
For your recovery, the doctor will of course give instructions so make sure to give it importance. Here are a few common instructions to given by doctors:
1. Bleeding naturally will occur on the first day after wisdom tooth removal. Replace your gauze by following your dentist’s guide. Avoid spitting too much as you may also remove the blot clots from your tooth socket.
2. To manage pain, you may be given some medications that you can get over the counter or by prescription. Medication is especially essential when bone was also removed during your wisdom tooth extraction. A cold pack against your jaw will also help in reducing pain.
3. Swelling and bruising can be managed by use of an ice pack.
4. Do not engage in any strenuous activity right after wisdom teeth extraction. Take some time off to rest and recover.
5. Drink lots of water after your tooth extraction and avoid alcoholic drinks, drinks with caffeine, carbonated drinks and any hot beverages in 24 hours. Avoid using it for at least a week after the extraction as sucking action with a straw can remove blot clots in the tooth socket.
6. After surgery, eat soft foods and gradually start eating semi-soft food when it is not hard to do so. Stay away from hard food or those that require chewing as they may cause issues or complications.
7. Brushing and use of mouthwash is not advised within 24 hours after tooth extraction. Brushing can be done a day after but be gentle when brushing especially on the wound area. Also, it is advised to rinse your mouth with warm water with salt at two-hour intervals and after meals for one week.
8. Use of tobacco will be restricted for at least 3 days or more after tooth extraction as tobacco products can delay the healing process and may pose some complications.
9. For stitches, have them removed if required. Most stitches just dissolve after a few weeks.
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