Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Do you need to remove your wisdom teeth?
Are your wisdom teeth coming in?
You’ll probably agree with me when I say: it’s not the most pleasant experience! Symptoms like pain, pressure on the gums, and a stiff jaw can be uncomfortable, or even excruciating for some.
If you feel these symptoms, it may be time to consider wisdom teeth removal.
Luckily, wisdom tooth extraction can put an end to all of these symptoms and prevent a score of serious complications. According to an article in BMJ Clinical Evidence, threats like wisdom tooth infection and various kinds of dental disease can destroy adjacent teeth and bone. These infections can even spread to other parts of the body, leading to many different kinds of complications.
That said, not everyone needs their wisdom teeth extracted. Occasionally, some wisdom teeth come through correctly or are harmless, requiring no further action. Some people never even get wisdom teeth—as many as 10%, according to a study in Human Biology. To find out if tooth extraction is right for you, we’ll cover the purpose of wisdom teeth, the problems that necessitate removal, and the removal process.
You might be thinking:
“Why are we born with wisdom teeth if they’re always getting removed?”
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that humans typically grow between the ages of 18 and 24. The Human Biology study explains that these molar teeth were necessary for the early human diet, which consisted of raw and tough foods.
Today, wisdom teeth are considered vestigial organs—that is to say, evolution has rendered them obsolete. Over time, cooking with fire, utensils, and other food preparation innovations softened foods, decreasing the evolutionary pressure to maintain third molars and the elongated jaws to support them.
Unfortunately, smaller jaws mean that many of us don’t have large enough mouths for all of our teeth, giving way to complications that need to be corrected, such as misaligned and impacted wisdom teeth.
So what are misaligned and impacted wisdom teeth?
As a misaligned third molar erupts, it derails from its intended path and can push against other teeth. This pressure can damage bone, teeth, and nerves or crowd your teeth. The American Dental Association also notes several different negative outcomes, such as the tendency for misaligned teeth to trap food and spur the growth of bacteria and infection, as well as increase difficulty while flossing and cleaning.
The Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons points out several symptoms of misaligned teeth to watch for, such as pain, pressure, infection, and damage to adjacent molars.
Some wisdom teeth never or only partially emerge past the gums because other teeth block their path. Dentists call these obstructed molars “impacted” wisdom teeth, and they’re very common. The BMJ Clinical Evidence article relates that over 72% of people aged 20 to 30 years have at least one impacted third molar.
They also pose even greater risks than misaligned wisdom teeth:
According to the BMJ Clinical Health article, an impacted wisdom tooth can result in periodontal disease, teeth alignment issues, inhibited chewing and speaking, damaged teeth, and the need for future treatment.
Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the signs of an impacted tooth, especially those that indicate infection. Look for cysts, pain, bleeding, and inflammation around the jaw and gums. Other symptoms include bad breath, bad taste, or stiffness in your jaw.
In some cases, both misaligned and impacted teeth may not exhibit any symptoms at all. However, the health risks remain. Therefore, it is essential to consult a dentist, as we can provide a radiograph of your jaw to reveal the condition of your wisdom teeth.
Additionally, we can pinpoint the perfect moment to go forward with extraction—ideally, wisdom teeth are removed as they begin to emerge but before they are impacted and do any damage.
The bottom line: when a wisdom tooth is impacted or misaligned, it could be time for extraction, but only a dentist can know for sure, as each case is unique.
At this point, you might be asking:
“How are wisdom teeth removed?”
Before pulling teeth, a dentist will likely take an X-ray of your teeth, and heal any existing infections. Extraction may be performed by a dentist or oral surgeon, in a dentist’s office, surgeon’s office, or hospital, depending on your choice of either local or general anesthetic.
During a procedure using local anesthesia, a dentist will numb the area surrounding the tooth while you are awake.
Conversely, you will be asleep during a general anesthetic procedure. If you’re getting all of your wisdom teeth removed at once, a dentist may recommend this method.
Either way, the anesthesia will make the procedure painless.
The surgery itself is simple enough to be broken down into three main steps:
- The orientation of your wisdom tooth may require a dentist to make a small incision on the gum over the tooth and remove any bone covering it.
- After separating the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone, the wisdom tooth is taken out. Often times, the tooth is cut into pieces, which makes it easier to remove.
- Lastly, a dentist may seal the affected areas with dissolvable stitches which typically take seven to ten days to dissipate. A gauze pad will be placed against the wound to reduce bleeding.
Typically, the recovery period runs the course of a few days. During this time, you can expect to feel some level of discomfort, but a dentist will usually prescribe painkillers and further instructions on how to effectively and efficiently manage the pain.
The usefulness of wisdom teeth has long been made obsolete by changes in diet and evolution, leaving us with pesky third molars that serve no purpose. While wisdom teeth aren’t always problematic, extraction is usually necessary to avert the potential symptoms and adverse health outcomes set into motion by misaligned and impacted teeth. While symptoms like pain, inflammation, and infection can alert us to the presence of emerging teeth, regular dental check-ups can ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. Fortunately, the three-step surgery to extract wisdom teeth is simple and effective.
If your wisdom teeth are coming in, or you’d to learn more about wisdom teeth removal, book a free consultation with us by calling (780) 425-1646.