The 411 on Wisdom Teeth

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What are wisdom teeth? These are your third set of molars located all the way in the back of your mouth. They are the last four teeth to erupt, usually between ages 17 and 25. We recommend having these teeth extracted because they are so far back and usually do not come in normally. There are many reasons to get these teeth extracted, which are as follows:

  • Crowding of your present teeth
  • Mouth is not big enough
  • Can cause changes in your overall occlusion “bite”
  • Cause gum disease
  • Accelerated tooth decay
  • They erupt at the wrong angle and cause decay or root resorption in the molar in front of it
  • Increase risk of infection because you do not have proper access to keep it clean
  • Risk of a cyst around it damaging nerve endings and bone erosion

3 major Signs you may need to have these teeth extracted:

  • Pain– this is the most common. The pain can radiate from your wisdom teeth to other areas of your mouth, as the teeth are trying to push their way in.
  • Swelling– Most noticeable in localized jaw area, but can extend from chin back to under the ear. This occurs due to the tooth shifting within the jaw bone, which disrupts the nerve endings.
  • Swollen or bleeding gums- This can happen in the area of the wisdom tooth when food, plaque or bacteria get trapped around the tooth and you cannot remove it, causing the gum tissue to become inflamed, swollen, and bleed.

As dental professionals, we are always monitoring these areas on X-rays starting at around age 16, sometimes earlier. If we feel that you need to have your wisdom teeth addressed we will give you a referral to an oral surgeon’s office.

The process:

1st Appt: Consult– Meet with Oral Surgeon, take any needed X-rays (usually a panoramic X-ray, refer to my past post about dental X-ray for more detail), discuss any health problems and medications, risk factors of extraction, discuss anesthesia options and any questions you may have.

2nd Appt: Extraction– In and out of the office within a couple of hours depending on the type of anesthesia you choose and then go home and rest for the day. Most people need 1-3 days to recover. As long as you follow the recommended guidelines on what not to do over the next week, you should have no problems.

Usual recommended Do’s & Don’ts

Do’s:

  1.  Use an ice pack on your face to curb swelling or skin color changes
  2.  Use moist heat for a sore jaw
  3.  Eat soft foods; pasta, mash potatoes, Jell-o, pudding, rice, soup, apple sauce
  4.  Drink plenty of fluids (Not through a straw)
  5.  Brush your teeth starting the second day; be sure not to brush against blood clots
  6. Call your Oral Surgeon if; you have a fever or pain or swelling does not improve

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t drink through a straw (sucking can loosen blood clots, which is what helps the healing)
  2. Don’t rinse your mouth aggressively
  3. Don’t eat hard, crunchy or sticky food
  4. Don’t smoke – this can slow your healing process or cause dry sockets

3rd Appt: Follow up– usually 1 – 2 weeks after extraction the oral surgeon likes to see you for a follow up to see how areas are healing.

If you have any questions regarding your wisdom teeth please feel free to comment below, discuss with your dentist, or contact us with any further questions or concerns you may have.

 

 

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