What is a wisdom tooth?
Although wisdom teeth have nothing to do with wisdom, it is still pretty wise to know about them. Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are typically the last teeth to come into your mouth at around the ages of 17 to 21 years old. Most people develop two wisdom teeth in your top jaw, and two wisdom teeth in your bottom jaw, which appear at the very back of your mouth. However, these teeth commonly present with abnormalities, and sometimes become trapped underneath the gums and don’t erupt, which is known as tooth impaction. If you don’t see your wisdom teeth in your mouth, your dentist can spot them on dental x-rays.
Is it necessary to get your wisdom tooth extracted?
Some people don’t experience any problems with their wisdom teeth, yet some do which often leads to a referral by your dental professional for them to be extracted. This happens if your wisdom teeth are causing issues like pain, infection, gum disease, harm to adjacent teeth, or tooth decay for instance. In addition, if there is not enough space for other teeth, they may be recommended to be removed.
What is the right time to get your wisdom tooth extracted?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), individuals should have their wisdom teeth evaluated before 20 years of age to check their development and determine if any issues are present. It is often recommended by dental professionals to have these teeth removed at an early age before the roots of the teeth are completely set into the jaw bones so that they are easier to remove. In addition, older individuals may have greater risk of complications post-surgery than younger individuals.
How is your dental health affected with impacted wisdom teeth?
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause some issues to your oral health. This can include:
- Pain or discomfort
- Trapping food particles that can lead to decay
- Infection or gum disease
- Tooth decay (cavities)
- Damage to surrounding teeth or the jawbone
- Development of a cyst surrounding the impacted wisdom tooth
- Complications with orthodontic treatments (braces)
What should you expect during your wisdom tooth extraction procedure?
Before your wisdom tooth extraction you will have the opportunity to discuss the procedure with your dental professional and ask any questions. They will review your medical history and discuss available anesthesia options. Some wisdom teeth procedures are performed with local anesthesia using common anesthetics like lidocaine. In addition, IV sedation or general anesthesia may be available. During the procedure, an incision may need to be made to expose your wisdom tooth if it is impacted. Once removed, the site will be washed out and cleaned to remove any debris. After the procedure, you may receive stitches to help close the extraction site. After a few days, you should feel back to normal!
How to take care of your teeth after wisdom teeth removal?
For the first couple days after your wisdom teeth are removed, you will be instructed to consume soft foods and drink a lot of fluids. You may use an ice pack to reduce any swelling. Avoid using straws or smoking which can significantly disrupt your healing and increase the risk of complications.
Your dentist will determine any medications necessary to help alleviate any pain or swelling. If you experience any signs of a fever, excessive bleeding, difficulty breathing or swallowing, persistent loss of feeling, or swelling that does not seem to improve, contact your doctor immediately.
Our doctors and dental specialists provide a wide range of dental services at our 40+ multi-specialty dental offices across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Our dental team is compassionate, and our main goal is to provide you a comfortable, caring dental experience. Book an appointment at your local Gentle Dental today.