At your routine check-up, your dentist mentions that it’s time to start thinking about having your wisdom teeth removed. Panic immediately sets in as you start to think of alternative solutions. You wonder if removal is really necessary; after all, how could an extra couple of teeth be a bad thing? This is not an uncommon scenario in dental offices around the country. Millions of Americans have some degree of anxiety associated with going to the dentist; that anxiety only increases when dental procedures are involved. For many people, the anxiety stems from fear of the unknown. In order to demystify the wisdom teeth removal process, let’s consider some facts below.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third– and final– set of molars. They typically appear when people are in their late teens or early twenties. The fact that they are such latecomers contributed to their unique name; because they appear much later than most other teeth, people are thought to be “wiser” when wisdom teeth finally make their appearance. Wisdom teeth are typically detected via a dental X-ray.
Why do they need to be removed?
Wisdom teeth don’t always need to be removed. They can actually prove to be a valuable addition to the mouth when they are both healthy and aligned correctly. Unfortunately, however, wisdom teeth are frequently misaligned. Consider the following reasons why people choose to have their wisdom teeth removed:
- They’re impacted. Due to their position in the mouth, one or more wisdom teeth often become impacted in the gums or jawbone. This can result in significant pain for sufferers and removal is typically recommended.
- Small mouth. Sometimes, patients simply don’t have enough room in their mouths for another set of molars, so removal is the logical course of action.
- Misalignment. When wisdom teeth are positioned to come in at an undesirable angle, they may push the other teeth out of alignment. Poorly aligned wisdom teeth can also damage the jawbone and nerves.
What is the removal process like?
The removal process is highly dependent on the number of wisdom teeth that need to be removed and their positions in the mouth. For example, partially or fully erupted wisdom teeth are much easier to remove than impacted teeth. In general, however, the following steps are involved in the removal process:
- Pre-op appointment. Before your surgery, you’ll meet with your dentist or oral surgeon to discuss the procedure and what you can expect in terms of recovery. Be sure to bring a list of all medications you’re currently taking and discuss any health concerns you have during this appointment.
- Surgery Day. On the day of your surgery, anesthesia will be administered so that you’re not able to feel pain or discomfort. The anesthesia might be local, IV sedation, or general anesthesia. If your teeth are impacted, incisions will be made into the gums or jawbone. The incisions will be stitched up to promote quick healing; the stitches typically dissolve in a couple of days.
- Post-Surgery. For most people, pain after surgery is minimal or non-existent. However, swelling is extremely common. The swelling typically resolves in a few days, although it will take the mouth a couple of weeks to heal completely. In order to heal as efficiently as possible, stick to soft foods and drink plenty of fluids in the days following your surgery. Applying ice packs to the face can also help to minimize swelling. Additionally, you should avoid eating hard or crunchy food, sucking a drink through a straw, and smoking.
For more information regarding wisdom teeth removal, or any other dental health concerns, contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you!