Age brings wisdom, but when it comes to your smile, age brings wisdom teeth. Your wisdom teeth can be valuable assets to your smile, but only when they are healthy and correctly positioned. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. As wisdom teeth move in, problems often arise and their removal is required. If your jaw isn’t big enough to hold the teeth, their growth can become impeded. Wisdom teeth can also grow in sideways, emerge partially, or remain stuck underneath the gum and bone.
In general, it is best to say goodbye to your wisdom teeth when:
• They only partially emerge. This can leave a space surrounding the tooth where the bacteria can thrive, which can lead to infection, tooth pain, swelling, illness, and stiffness of the jaw.
• They are improperly aligned. This can inflict damage to the surrounding teeth.
• A cyst forms. This can damage adjacent tooth roots and bone.
If you ask your dentist about the current position of your wisdom teeth during your cleaning or checkup, you will know if your teeth will need to be removed in the future. It is very important that you schedule an appointment with your dentist if you experience any pain, swelling, or tenderness surrounding your wisdom teeth so you can determine the seriousness of the problem. If the problems require the removal of your teeth, you may need to schedule an additional appointment. But, there are times when the dentist suggests removing the teeth during your current appointment.
Fortunately, wisdom tooth extractions are relatively minor outpatient treatments. First, the dentist will numb the surrounding area with a local anesthetic. This will ease any discomfort you feel. Once the area is numb, the dentist will remove the tooth with forceps. Then, they will stitch the gums together. If the tooth is only partially visible, the dentist may need to cut open the gums and pull them back to access the tooth. After the tooth has been extracted, you will need to stop the bleeding by biting down on a piece of gauze for roughly 20 to 30 minutes.
After the treatment, only eat soft and cool foods for the next couple of days. Please keep from smoking, drinking out of a straw, and spitting until the wound begins to heal. Each of these activities dislodge the clot and cause a dry socket. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will keep your wound clean and bacteria free. Most of the swelling and bleeding will subside after a couple of days.
In most cases, your stitches will dissolve within a few weeks, but there are times when your dentist needs to remove them. To relieve any pain or discomfort you feel, you may take over-the-counter pain medications. But your dentist may also prescribe you a painkiller. Please be careful to keep your wound clean so you avoid infections.
If you have questions about wisdom tooth removal or about post-procedure care, please feel free to talk to your dentist.