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 –
Prevent Damage to Surrounding teeth: Wisdom tooth impaction can cause damage to the second molars which can lead to decay, misalignment, gum recession and bone loss.
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.
The procedure will be performed under local or general anesthesia. No overnight stay is needed. To remove the wisdom teeth, your dentist will open up the gum tissue that is covering the tooth and then remove any bone that is encasing the crown. The dentist will then separate the tissue that is connecting the tooth to the bone and extract the tooth. Sometimes your dentist will cut the tooth into smaller pieces to make tooth extraction easier. After the tooth is removed you may need to get stitches, either removable or dissolving. A padded gauze piece will be placed over the incision to prevent bleeding.
What to expect after your wisdom teeth are removed
In most cases, recovery will only take 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.
- Relax after surgery. Physical activity will cause bleeding to start again.
General Tooth Extraction
Our dentists also perform general dental extraction procedures to prevent overcrowding of teeth or remove teeth that are so decayed that they are beyond saving. This will help prevent the need for root canal surgery, avoid gum disease and provide room for surrounding teeth to fill.