For most people, adult teeth begin coming in around puberty. These are permanent teeth that you’ll have for the rest of your life. In some cases, your wisdom teeth grow in around the same time as your other adult teeth. With others, they come in later on, after the bite alignment has settled.
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars found at the back of your mouth. These teeth usually arrive between the ages of 17 to 25. While many people have their wisdom teeth grow in, sometimes they don’t grow at all. Wisdom teeth are the most commonly missing teeth.
Assuming your wisdom teeth do grow, what do you do next? Most people tend to have these teeth removed on the dentist’s recommendation. Wisdom tooth extraction isn’t always necessary, but many dentists advise it. There are usually some signs that indicate if it would be better to remove your wisdom teeth. Some of these include:
- Improper growth – Your wisdom teeth are the last four to emerge, giving you a total of 32 teeth vying for space in your jaw. Sometimes, the jaw isn’t large enough to accommodate all these teeth. The wisdom teeth are far in the back of the mouth, making it difficult to straighten them like your other teeth if they grow.
- Pain – Pain in the jaws is usually a sign of wisdom teeth erupting through the jaws. It’s also easy for food to get trapped in partially-erupted wisdom teeth. The food and bacteria stuck in the area can cause a painful infection called pericoronitis. Consult your dentist to find out if wisdom teeth are the cause of the pain and get a professional opinion before proceeding.
- Inflamed gums – Erupting wisdom teeth can also cause complications with your surrounding gum tissue. When they emerge, they can create a flap of gum tissue that can trap leftover food as you eat. The tissue around the tooth can become hard and inflamed, causing pain.
- Difficulty eating – Dental problems can translate into pain and difficulty when chewing and eating. In the case of wisdom teeth, food can also get stuck between them. Since wisdom teeth are far in the back, this makes it hard to reach and brush. A dentist can give you advice, including advising extraction. Leaving food on the wisdom teeth can lead to later complications (e.g. tooth decay). Removal may be a solution. Removing those teeth makes it easier to brush those areas and clean them properly.
- Crooked teeth – When wisdom teeth lack enough space to grow, they sometimes emerge improperly. This can shift the other teeth and disrupt the arrangement. Erupting wisdom teeth can also cause damage to surrounding teeth as they grow. Dentists can use x-rays to check your teeth and find out if your wisdom teeth pose a problem. Extraction can remove those teeth before they displace others.
- Cysts – Wisdom teeth can also affect the surrounding tissues. If they erupt improperly, cysts can develop around the teeth. Any untreated cysts can damage the surrounding area, including other teeth and bone. Consider extraction before complications develop.
- Sinus problems – Having wisdom teeth can have effects on other parts of the body. Wisdom teeth on the upper jaw can affect the sinuses as they grow. As these teeth emerge and their roots develop, they can put pressure on the upper jaw and sinuses. This can cause different problems (e.g. congestion, pressure, and sinus pain). A dentist may advise wisdom tooth extraction to nip the problem in the bud early.
Prevention matters when it comes to your teeth. Most of the advice you get from dentists is meant to preempt dental problems, and removing wisdom teeth is much the same. In many cases, dentists advise removing wisdom teeth before they can cause complications. Wisdom teeth can occasionally become impacted. When this happens, the teeth can’t emerge properly, thanks to a lack of room for them to grow. Impacted wisdom teeth can try to grow, leading them to collide with the roots of other molars, causing pain.
Ideally, dentists prefer to extract wisdom teeth when patients are young (usually before 20). There is no “correct age” for removing wisdom teeth, but it’s generally better to do it early. Younger patients can heal faster, leading to shorter recovery periods.
What to Expect from Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom tooth extraction is a relatively simple procedure. You have a choice when it comes to sedation dentistry. In most cases, patients are given a local anesthetic to numb the pain. You may feel some pressure, as the dentist has to widen the tooth socket by rubbing the tooth back and forth. For impacted teeth, the dentist may have to cut into the gum to reach the tooth. The dentist may also cut the tooth into smaller pieces during the operation to make it easier to remove. The process can range from 20 minutes to an hour or more, depending on certain elements (e.g. how many teeth are being removed).
After the operation comes recovery, and that can take some time. There are some things you can do to make recovery more comfortable and take up less of your time. Try these things after your surgery to have a quicker road to recovery.
- Get plenty of rest – Rest is the most crucial part of recovering after an operation. Avoid any strenuous activities for at least 24 hours after surgery. For better results, keep your head elevated on a pillow while you rest.
- Apply ice packs – Swelling is a common side effect of the surgery. Use an ice pack to reduce blood flow to the area and reduce the swelling. Place one on your face to keep the swelling down. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth to avoid ice burns. Stick to 15-20 minute sessions for best results.
- Avoid smoking – Tobacco is harmful to oral health, but even more so after your operation. Stay away from smoking for at least 48 hours. Other actions to avoid include sucking or sipping. Any suction can remove the clot, possibly pain and bleeding.
- Take your medicine – Take your medication as prescribed by your dentist. It can help with pain and swelling, making recovery a more pleasant process. You’ll typically take antibiotics to prevent infection and keep the operation site healthy while you recover. Your dentist may also give you painkillers to help deal with the pain.
- Drink plenty of water – It’s essential to stay hydrated while you recover. Get plenty of water to drink to keep your body balanced until you can go back to solid food. In addition to drinking, rinse your mouth after extraction to clean the extraction site. Use a warm saline solution to eliminate any germs and keep the area clean until you can brush again.
- Eat right – Until your mouth heals, it’ll be hard to eat solid food. Pick soft foods you can eat with minimal chewing during the recovery period. Soup, mashed potatoes, and yogurt are good choices. Avoid foods that can leave particles in the socket (e.g. pasta and peanuts).
For some people, wisdom teeth don’t grow, but in case yours do, you’ll be more prepared to handle it. Wisdom teeth present some problems when they emerge, but a dentist can remove them before they become an issue. Consult your dentist to find out if you have wisdom teeth that need extraction. For top quality dental services, give London City Dental a call at (519) 657-6767. Our caring staff are ready to help.