Wisdom Teeth

The words “wisdom teeth” conjure a lot of thoughts and images in people – most of them bad.

Whether you’ve dealt with wisdom teeth concerns or not, you likely know that these teeth can lead to significant oral issues. But why is that? And why do so many people have their wisdom teeth removed?

We’ll answer those questions and help you determine if you should seek professional consultation for your own wisdom teeth situation.

What exactly are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are your final set of molars. The furthest removed teeth from your mouth, these teeth begin to appear in your late teens and early 20s. It is because of their late appearance that they are referred to as wisdom teeth – as you are older and thus wiser when they appear.

Why are wisdom teeth problematic?

The biggest issue with most sets of wisdom teeth is the amount of space – specifically a lack of space – that is available to their growth. Occasionally, wisdom teeth will grow in a healthy pattern or not even develop at all. 

Quite often, however, they develop in misalignment and can create severe crowding and disturbances for the other teeth in your mouth. They are also often impacted or partially impacted.

For instance, sometimes wisdom teeth will literally grow into the mouth at a sideways or partially sideways angle. The result is that they push all your other teeth together and even threaten the health and safety of your other molars by encroaching on their roots.

When wisdom teeth become impacted in some fashion this leads the patient to suffer pain (often severe) as well as: 

  • Trapped food and debris behind the wisdom tooth
  • Infection or gum disease (periodontal disease)
  • Decay in a partially erupted wisdom tooth
  • Damage to a nearby tooth or surrounding bone
  • Development of a fluid-filled sac (cyst) around the wisdom tooth
  • Complications with orthodontic treatments to straighten other teeth

When should you seek professional help?

Ideally, you’ve been seeing a dentist throughout your life. All dentists track the progress of your teeth as you age and – using x-ray and imaging technology – they start looking for the presence and growth of wisdom teeth beginning in your teens.

If and when the dentist detects the presence of wisdom teeth, they will show you their findings and begin working with you to determine optimum oral health.

There is a very good chance that you will need to have any and all wisdom teeth extracted surgically. However, modern developments in dental care means that this is now a relatively routine and uncomplicated procedure.

If you have not seen a dentist regularly, please begin to do so immediately – no matter your oral health condition. As you may feel fine but are dealing with problems that will eventually surface in a painful and troublesome manner. And if you are feeling any tightness or tenderness anywhere in your mouth, please let your dental health professional know immediately. 

Thanks to modern dental practices and technology, most dentists can address the presence and growth

Process of wisdom teeth removal

 of wisdom teeth relatively easy – even if you need to have them removed surgically.

What does wisdom teeth removal include?

If you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, your dentist will let you know – sometimes even years in advance. Even if you do not have that much time, the likelihood is that you will have weeks if not months to prepare for the procedure. This can be extremely advantageous, as, despite the fact that the procedure is routine and safe, it does require some time to recover from.

Careful and conscientious oral health professionals will sit down with you well in advance to help you determine the best time and place for your extraction procedure. For instance, they will consider your age and school or work responsibilities, as you will need several days to fully recover. 

They will also help you determine what type of surgery works best for you – as some patients have sensitivities or allergic reactions to different types of sedation.

Luckily there are multiple types of sedation available to ensure a pain free and safe procedure, including:

  • Local anesthesia – This is the simplest anesthesia, given through injections near the site of each extraction. It is the same type of anesthesia used for removing a tooth in the dentist office and completely numbs the site of the extraction. While you will be awake, you shouldn’t experience pain.
  • General anesthesia – This is for patients that may have more severe or complicated procedures.  During this type of anesthesia, you may inhale medication through your nose or have an IV line in your arm, or both. During this procedure, a surgical team closely monitors your medication, breathing, temperature, fluids, and blood pressure. You’ll experience no pain and have no memory of the procedure. General anesthesia may be used in concert with local anesthesia to ease postoperative discomfort.
  • Sedation anesthesia – This type of anesthesia is delivered through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. Sedation anesthesia suppresses your consciousness during the procedure. You don’t feel any pain and will have limited memory of the procedure. It is also used in concert with local anesthesia to numb the extraction site.

During the surgery, usually performed by an oral surgeon working in concert with your dentist, you will be sedated and have all potentially dangerous wisdom teeth removed, sometimes in sections. The surgeon will then clean and stitch the surgery site. You will not be able to drive after the procedure. So, you will need a ride home and someone to look after you in the hours and even days following the procedure.

What to expect after wisdom tooth surgery

The good news is that you will likely not require a follow-up to the actual surgery. However, you will need to closely follow your oral health professional’s instructions in the days and weeks following the procedure. This will not only reduce any pain or discomfort but also help you to have better oral health in the future.

There are several things to be aware of following wisdom teeth extraction, and you should be prepared to rest for at least 24 hours following the procedure. During the routine, a blood clot will form in the socket(s) created by the procedure. That clot is critical to healing and must stay in place so that you can avoid suffering a result known as “dry socket,” which can be very painful. Therefore, it is imperative not to suck on anything (including drinking from a straw) or spit continuously, as these actions could dislodge the clot. You should also avoid any tobacco use of any kind for at least 72 hours – longer if you use smokeless tobacco products.

Other factors to be aware of include:

  • Pain – Many patients only need over-the-counter pain reliever (acetaminophen or NSAIDs) to counter post-surgery discomfort. However, many others require prescription pain medication. Cold compresses held against the jaw also helpful.
  • Bleeding – Some bleeding in the 24 hours after surgery is typical. But beware of excess bleeding or prolonged bleeding.
  • Swelling and bruising – Swelling usually improves in two or three days; bruising may take several more days to resolve.
  • Liquid intake – You should drink plenty of water after surgery. However, be sure to avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated, or hot beverages within a day of surgery. 
  • Food – Eat only soft foods, such as yogurt or applesauce, for the first 24 hours. You may then eat semisoft foods when you can tolerate them. Avoid hard, chewy, hot or spicy foods that might get stuck in the socket or irritate the wound.
  • Cleaning your mouth – Do not brush, rinse, or spit during the first 24 hours after surgery. Likely, you’ll be able to brush a full day removed from surgery. Be VERY gentle anywhere near the extraction sites.

Follow these steps and you should have a relatively simple and healthy result to your wisdom teeth surgery. There are, however, some very rare post-surgery complications. So, be aware of excessive bleeding and contact a healthcare professional if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Fever
  • Severe pain not relieved by prescribed pain medications
  • Swelling that worsens after two or three days
  • Pus in or oozing from the socket
  • Persistent numbness or loss of feeling

Need to address your wisdom teeth?

If you have wisdom teeth concerns, have moved to a new town, or have had a lapse in professional dental care and need to find a new dentist, please know that BGW is ready to help you with all your oral healthcare needs – including wisdom teeth.

We work to stay abreast of how wisdom teeth are developing in our patients, keeping a close eye on growth, position and quantity so that we help our patients avoid any detriments related to these often-troublesome teeth and determine the best time to complete extractions, should that be necessary.

Post-extraction will require some recuperative time, but BGW’s methods assure that you will be back to normal in the quickest and safest possible manner.

Please stay on top of the development of you or your loved ones’ wisdom teeth, and please contact our offices to learn more about how we handle wisdom teeth. Our locations in Braselton and Gainesville make it convenient for you, no matter your location in north Georgia, and we are here to help. Call us today at 678-582-8099.

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