No one wants to get the diagnosis that a tooth needs to be removed because we associate pain with an extraction procedure. It is common for a teenager or an adult to need removal of wisdom teeth. Even though it is a procedure that dentists do many, many times, you may still have trepidation when anticipating having your wisdom teeth pulled. Wisdom tooth extractions can be safe with only some soreness afterward and your overall oral health is much improved.
Here at Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry, we are knowledgeable about the methods to remove wisdom teeth that result in less pain and treatments that reduce recovery time. In this article, we will explore the process of wisdom teeth removal, discuss the potential sensations during and after the procedure, and provide tips for managing any discomfort.
Why Do We Need Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth are the third molars at the very back of your teeth and usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that between 60% and 85% of Americans have had at least one of their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their lives. As time has progressed from when our ancient ancestors lived, our food has become softer and we no longer need those molars to chew and grind foods that are tough and difficult to chew. As a result, the modern jaw has adapted and is now too small to accommodate 32 teeth. Therefore, when wisdom teeth erupt, the mouth is overcrowded and the wisdom teeth become impacted. This is why they need to be removed.
Potential Problems with Wisdom Teeth
It’s important to continue to keep your oral health routine and get your teeth cleaned regularly as wisdom teeth erupt. If you have a wisdom tooth with any of these problems, you will need to have it pulled.
- Impacted – Because wisdom teeth are so far back in your mouth, they may not come in normally. They can become trapped in your jawbone or gums, which is painful.
- Wrong Angle – There isn’t enough room for them to come in properly, so they may be at an angle. An impacted wisdom tooth can grow at an angle toward the next tooth, grow at an angle toward the back of the mouth, or grow at a right angle to the other teeth.
- The Mouth is Too Small – Your jaw has no room for an extra set of molars.
- Cavities or Gum Disease – You may not be able to reach the wisdom teeth with a toothbrush or dental floss and, therefore, may get cavities or gum disease around them.
With any of the situations outlined above, you can experience these symptoms and consequences:
- Trapping food and debris behind the wisdom tooth
- Tooth decay in the wisdom tooth
- Damage to a nearby tooth or surrounding bone
- Infection or gum disease
- Development of a fluid-filled sac (cyst) around the wisdom tooth
- Complications with orthodontic treatments to straighten other teeth
The extraction procedure involves the dentist first taking X-rays to get an adequate view of the wisdom teeth. Afterward, the dentist determines whether or not the teeth need to be pulled. If any of the teeth are impacted, the extraction may be more intensive than normal. Typically, the surgery takes about 45 minutes or less.
You will get one of these types of anesthesia so you don’t feel any pain during the removal:
Local – Your doctor will numb your mouth with a local anesthetic such as novocaine, lidocaine, or mepivicaine. You may also breathe nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to relax or doze during the surgery. After having any of these local anesthesias, you will feel alert again when the procedure is completed.
IV Sedation – With an IV, the surgeon numbs your mouth with a local and then administers drugs through a vein in your arm to make you drowsy. You may, in fact, sleep during the entire procedure.
General – With general anesthesia, you will either get drugs injected in a vein or breathe gas in through a mask. You’ll be asleep the whole time and may not wake up for an hour or so after the surgery.
After Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Removed
After getting your wisdom teeth removed, you will have some discomfort at the extraction site, but everyone is different. Your dentist will provide you with information detailing what you need to do post-surgery. If you have had a local anesthetic and feel alert, you will probably be able to drive home. If you have had general anesthesia, you will need someone to drive you home. Most people have little to no pain after surgery; however, you will probably have swelling and mild discomfort for 3 days or so and it will take a few weeks to completely heal.
Here are some tips for the first 3 days after surgery:
- Use an ice pack on your face for swelling.
- Use moist heat for a sore jaw.
- Exercise your jaw by gently opening and closing your mouth.
- Eat soft foods like pasta, rice, or soup.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Brush your teeth on the second day being careful to not brush against any blood clots.
- Take the drugs your doctor prescribes to ease pain or swelling.
- Contact your doctor if you have a fever or if your pain and/or swelling doesn’t get better.
- Don’t drink through a straw because sucking may loosen blood clots that help your mouth heal.
- Don’t rinse your mouth too harshly; instead, rinse gently with salt water.
- Don’t eat hard, crunchy, or sticky foods.
- Don’t smoke. It can slow healing.
Contact Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry
If you have wisdom teeth that have erupted, it is a good idea to see a dentist who can diagnose and treat issues that have resulted such as overcrowding, impactions, and gum soreness. Our knowledgeable dentists can provide a plan for extraction and remediation for your specific situation. Call our Holly Springs dentist at 919-600-6262 or our dentist in Cary at 919-467-2203 to schedule your appointment or get started by filling out the form below.