All dentists agree that it is vital to remove your impacted wisdom teeth.
These teeth first appear on your X-rays when you’re in your early teens, although there have been many cases of wisdom teeth erupting even in early adulthood. It starts as an uncomfortable sensation in the back of your mouth as the third set of molars push back against the gums. Over time, this sensation grows from mild inconvenience to outright pain that interferes with daily activities.
The good news is that most people probably won’t notice their wisdom teeth coming through. That said, for a surprisingly large percentage of people, there is enough incentive to have the teeth removed. For starters, wisdom teeth can cause a host of issues – pain being the least of your concerns – including swelling, gum disease, and cavities.
Wisdom teeth may even pose a life-threatening risk once the surrounding area becomes infected, cause tooth decay, and starts to damage the neighboring teeth.
Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Necessary in Every Case?
Here’s a rule of thumb. If your wisdom teeth are i) preventing you from doing daily activities, ii) causing pain and discomfort, iii) and preventing proper oral hygiene, it’s best to have them removed.
Most dentists recommend the removal of wisdom teeth even if they’re not causing problems. This is because they’re so far back inside the jaw that reaching them with a toothbrush is often hard. It could interfere with oral hygiene.
So if you decide to keep your wisdom teeth, make sure to floss and brush them regularly, and never miss an appointment with your dentist.
If you’re not sure whether wisdom tooth removal is necessary in your case, here are X signs you should.
1. Incorrect Growth
In most cases, when wisdom teeth grow, they occupy too much space in the mouth. You cannot straighten them out with braces, so the problem usually goes unresolved until you finally decide to remove them.
The average human mouth only has enough room for about 28 teeth. When the wisdom teeth grow, they cramp up the place and push back at surrounding teeth. This creates the perfect conditions for pain and discomfort and many problems, including infections and cysts.
Currently, no viable medical procedure exists that can make all teeth fit together in an overcrowded mouth.
2. Difficulty Eating
Impacted wisdom teeth make it difficult to eat solid food and hot fluids. The wisdom teeth may cause food to get stuck in between the teeth and gums. Check-in with your dentist to identify if you can fix this problem using OTC medicines. If medication and other methods don’t put a handle on it, extraction may be the only choice left.
3. Dental Cysts Growing Around the Teeth
When a sac next to the tooth gets filled with fluid, you have what is known as a cyst. Cysts form over the top of an unerupted tooth or partially erupted tooth. Over time, the bacteria can gain access to the tooth’s periapical region through deeper infection of the pulp, traveling through the roots.
If you don’t treat the cyst, it may destroy surrounding teeth, roots, and bones. It may become too severe in rare cases and grow into a tumor, which could require surgical intervention.
4. Pain and Discomfort
Most wisdom teeth cause tremendous pain and aches. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort, get in touch with your dentist for a dental exam and an X-ray. It is worth pointing out that the pain may subside with time, in which case, no extraction may be required.
5. Crooked Teeth
Wisdom teeth that don’t correctly align with the surrounding teeth could pose a range of problems, from health and speech, to cosmetic and aesthetic. Worse still, the wisdom teeth may damage the surrounding structure. Extraction may be required to prevent the teeth from causing further damage.
One popular theory asserts that our jaws don’t provide enough space for wisdom teeth to grow, which causes them to bump against other teeth and grow sideways. This will require surgical removal to prevent misalignments in the teeth.
6. Sinus Infection
Sinuses are air-filled sacs located in the mouth and skull. They make breathing and respiration easier, and there are sets located in the forehead, behind the nose, and inside the cheekbone.
Wisdom teeth are near the sinuses located behind the nose. This makes it easy to put considerable pressure on your sinuses, causing congestion and pain. In some cases, the pain may even lead to recurring sinus headaches. Sinus contamination can also lead to other problems such as infection, impeded healing, and chronic sinusitis.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause cavities, also known as tooth decay. If left untreated, cavities can propagate uncontrolled tooth decay that will spread to other areas of the mouth. This will destroy the teeth, lead to infections and abscesses when the infection spreads to the roof of the mouth. In many cases, cavities result from poor oral hygiene, another common symptom of wisdom teeth.
The biggest concern with cavities is that they penetrate deep into the tooth structure, reaching the nerve. This is why many people also experience sensitivity to certain foods and drinks.
8. Inflammation of the Gums
Inflammation of the gum is a common issue that usually happens around the wisdom teeth. The tooth is partially exposed and has excess gum tissue overlapping the tooth. This allows bacteria and food particles to get trapped in the sacs between the overlapping tissue and the tooth. This usually results in inflammation of the gums where they become visibly red, swollen, and tender.
In some cases, they may even bleed. Persistent inflammation can cause fever, swelling, and pain, which may indicate a spreading infection.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction Procedure – Before the Surgery
You’ll meet with your dentist to talk about the process. At this stage, make sure to do the following:
- Talk about any health problems that you may have.
- List any drugs that you take regularly.
- Ask questions to clear any doubts about the surgery.
- Discuss what type of anesthesia is best for your procedure.
- Take time off from work or school for the surgery and recovery period. Now is also the right time to arrange for child care and pet care.
You’ll be administered one of the following anesthesia types to provide pain relief options during the surgery. These options will depend on your medical condition.
i) Nitrous Oxide
Also referred to as ‘laughing gas,’ nitrous oxide is one of the most common sedation methods preferred by dentists. It is inhaled through an oxygen mask. It offers more control over how aware a patient has to be during the procedure and wears off quickly. It’s like going to sleep.
Halcion is a medicine commonly used to treat insomnia. It is also used by dentists to administer anesthesia. The sedative effect of the drug kicks in quickly but may only last for one or two hours. This makes it ideal for dental surgery.
iii) Intravenous (IVs)
Intravenous sedation is a procedure that allows dentists to administer the sedative medication directly into the bloodstream. This sedative method is quick and gives dentists more control over sedation.
Following the anesthesia administration, your dentist may cut open your gums or bone to extract the wisdom tooth. He’ll then stitch the wounds shut to speed up the healing process. The stitches will dissolve a few days after the surgery.
Every person will respond differently to surgery and anesthesia. In some cases, you may be alert enough to drive home to start the recovery process. In others, you may need someone to drive you home. In general, most people feel little to no pain after surgery. You’ll have swelling and mild discomfort for a few days after surgery. Your gums and tissue may need a few weeks to finish healing.
A lot of people use painkillers after surgery. Sometimes they are already given painkillers before leaving the clinic. Both paracetamol and ibuprofen can relieve pain after the procedure. Aspirin isn’t suitable before or afterward because it can increase the risk of bleeding.
Make sure to follow your dentist’s instructions to avoid surgical complications and make a quick, speedy recovery. Here are a few dos and don’ts for the first few days after surgery:
- Use moist heat for a sore jaw
- Open and close your mouth gently, do not snap it shut
- Hold an ice pack against your cheek for a few days after the procedure
- Eat soft foods
- Drink lots of fluids
- Start brushing your teeth the next day
- Use the medications that your dentist prescribes
- Call you dentist if you have a fever or if the pain doesn’t subside after a few days
- Don’t to drink through a straw because it could loosen blood clots that play a role in healing your mouth
- Don’t eat hard and sticky foods that may risk contaminating the wounds
- Don’t smoke because it can slow the healing process
- Don’t drink hot fluids in the first few days because they can slow down the healing process
- Don’t perform strenuous exercises like sports for the first few days after surgery because it could interfere with the healing process
Are There Any Potential Side Effects of Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
Just like any other surgery, wisdom teeth extraction also runs the risk of side effects and infections after the procedure. As long as you follow your dentist’s instructions, none of the side effects would last long.
However, if the side effects continue after the first week, or worse, is accompanied by bad breath and swelling, your wound may be infected. Your first call should be to your dentist. You may be prescribed antiseptic mouthwashes and gels to put a handle on these issues
It is worth pointing out that nerves can be damaged during the surgery. This can cause numbness and bleeding in the tongue and part of the face. In sporadic cases, severe infections may occur. A tiny number of patients may suffer from permanent problems due to surgery complications, such as damage to surrounding teeth and numbness. The risk of this happening depends on several factors, particularly the extent of the surgery,
Below are five complications that usually follow after wisdom teeth extraction.
i) Dry Socket
A dry socket occurs when the blood clot, which forms over the wound to help it heal, comes off. This can leave the nerve under your gum exposed to germs and food. A dry socket can happen a few days following wisdom teeth extraction. Signs of a dry socket include sharp pain at the extraction point. Call your dentist if you start feeling this pain.
ii) Pain and Swelling
Pain and swelling are relatively common after wisdom tooth extractions, mostly three to five days after the procedure. You can usually control this process using over the counter pain medications.
iii) Limited Mouth Opening
Limited mouth opening refers to temporary restriction or discomfort when opening the mouth. This usually happens following a complicated surgery. Patients may be prescribed pain medications and muscle relaxants to treat the condition.
iv) Excessive Bleeding
Bleeding within the first few hours after extraction is normal because it takes some time for a blood clot to form over the extraction site. Your dentist will give you instructions to minimize bleeding, including rinsing your mouth with saltwater and avoiding smoking.
v) Lip Numbness
Although fairly less common, your lip or mouth may become numb after the surgery. This happens because wisdom teeth are near the inferior alveolar nerve in the jaw. If the nerve gets damaged during the procedure, it could lead to numbness. The numbness is temporary, but it could be permanent if nerve damage is severe.
You should always consult with your dentist to make a decision to remove wisdom teeth. Your dentist will evaluate the health of your wisdom teeth before taking the most appropriate course of action. Extraction is usually reserved as the last straw when no other method is proven to work. You may have to wait a few months to see if conditions improve before making a decision in many cases.
As a general rule, if you have pain or swelling and bad breath near the back of your teeth, it may be time to have your wisdom teeth removed.
Give a call to schedule an appointment to discuss your wisdom teeth.