Wisdom teeth, commonly referred to as third molars, are usually the last four teeth to surface in the mouth. These teeth typically surface around the age of 18-24 years. In most cases, inadequate space in the mouth prevents wisdom teeth from surfacing properly. When this happens your wisdom teeth are said to be impacted (stuck). If your wisdom teeth are left untreated they can eventually cause damage and misalignment of surrounding teeth, possibly leading to infection and other more complicated dental problems.
There are varying degrees of wisdom tooth impaction, depending on the depth at which the tooth is embedded in the jaw.
Soft Tissue Impaction: The crown of the tooth has penetrated through the bone but the gums are still covering part or all of the crown. This makes cleaning teeth difficult and often leads to tooth decay and infection.
Partial Bone Impaction: Part of the crown has broken through the gum tissue, but a portion of the tooth remains below the gums and surrounding jaw bone. This also makes it difficult to keep the area clean, leading to infection and tooth decay.
Full Bone Impaction: The tooth is still completely encased by the jaw bone.
Reasons for wisdom teeth removal?
Not all people have wisdom teeth, or even need them removed. Often, wisdom teeth extraction is performed as a result of pain, swelling, infection, tooth decay or to prevent more serious future complications.
The most common reasons for wisdom tooth extraction are –
Painful eruption (growing-in) of wisdom teeth: When the wisdom teeth are coming in, sometimes you can feel an uncomfortable pressure on the other teeth.
Infections: Food and bacteria can get stuck under gum tissue resulting in an infection.
Procedure for extracting wisdom teeth
First, your dentist will take X-Ray of your mouth to determine the level of impaction, and health of the surrounding teeth. From this, the dentist will be able to identify both existing and potential problems being caused by your wisdom teeth.
Referral to Oral Surgeon: Some wisdom teeth can be removed in our office. Others, or if general anesthesia is required, will be referred to a highly skilled Oral Surgeon in the area.
What to expect after your wisdom teeth are removed
In most cases, recovery will only take a 2-3 days. Take the pain medication prescribed by your dentist. The following tips will expedite your recovery time –
- Bite gently on, and replace your gauze pads periodically. If bleeding continues after 24 hours, contact your dentist.
- While numb, be careful not bite your cheek or tongue.
- Don’t lie flat on your back, this will prolong bleeding. Keep your head propped head up.
- Use an ice pack on your cheek for the first 24 hours to minimize swelling.
- Do not suck through a straw. This will dislodge the blood cot and promote further bleeding.
- After 24 hrs, gently rinse your mouth with salt water to relieve pain and swelling.
- Rela after surgery. Physical activity will cause bleeding to start again.
General Tooth Extraction
Our dentists also perform many general dental extraction procedures to remove teeth that are so decayed that they are beyond saving, or they are loose due to periodontal disease. Sometimes teeth are so decayed they cannot be saved with root canal therapy, or sometimes patients elect to have the tooth removed instead.
Set up an appointment with one of our dentists today by scheduling online or giving us a call (208.322.5655).