If your third molars are causing you severe pain or have grown crooked, you may need wisdom teeth extraction. Sometimes dentists suggest removing wisdom teeth preventively before problems can develop. This standard oral surgery procedure takes about an hour to complete, whereas full recovery takes about two weeks. Read on to learn more about the process before having your wisdom tooth extracted!
What Is Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
Among all your teeth, your wisdom teeth are the last to emerge. They appear between 17 and 25, often causing concerns due to their late eruption and potential complications. These extra teeth can lead to problems such as overcrowding, impaction, infection, decay, and damage to adjacent teeth.
Wisdom teeth extraction is a surgical process designed to remove one or more of your third molars — known as wisdom teeth. These are the four teeth in the rear corners of your mouth, both on the top and bottom. Conducted either by a skilled dentist or an oral surgeon, this procedure often becomes essential when dealing with an impacted wisdom tooth, causing pain, infection, or other oral issues.
While some lucky individuals never get wisdom teeth, others see them erupt without hassle — much like any other molar.
The Problem with Impacted Wisdom Teeth
However, wisdom teeth are not uncommon to become impacted, meaning they don’t have enough room to grow correctly. When you get an impacted wisdom tooth, it can grow in various troublesome directions:
- Angled towards the adjacent second molar
- Slanted towards the rear of the mouth
- Lying horizontally within the jawbone
- Trapped within the jawbone, growing neither upwards nor downwards
The Importance of Wisdom Tooth Removal
Wisdom tooth extraction prevents severe pain, infection, and long-term oral health issues. While most of these procedures go smoothly without any long-term problems, knowing the risks accompanying the surgical removal of impacted wisdom teeth is essential. Understanding these complications can help you prep for the procedure and know what signs to watch in the post-operative phase.
What Could Go Wrong? Rare But Important Risks
One of the most commonly discussed complications is a condition known as “dry socket.” It occurs when the protective blood clot that usually forms after the extraction gets dislodged or dissolves prematurely, exposing the bone and nerve endings. Not only can this be painful, but it can also delay the healing process.
You can avoid it rigorously by following your dentist’s after-care instructions and avoiding smoking or using straws, as they can dislodge the clot.
The Risk of Infection
Post-surgical infection is another risk from bacteria infiltrating the extraction site or trapped food particles. Infections can cause pain, fever, and prolonged healing time.
You can avoid infection by keeping the surgical site clean per your dentist’s guidelines and taking prescribed antibiotics, if any, as directed.
Damage to Nearby Structures
Although rare, nearby teeth, nerves, or jawbone can get damaged during extraction. In some cases, this could even extend to complications involving the sinuses.
You can avoid this dangerous complication by choosing an experienced oral surgeon for the procedure and getting comprehensive pre-operative imaging studies, like X-rays or CT scans.
While these risks may sound intimidating, it’s important to remember that they are relatively rare, especially when you’re in the hands of skilled professionals.
Symptoms That Demand Extraction
Ignoring an impacted wisdom tooth isn’t wise, as it can lead to a multitude of problems:
- Intense Pain: One of the most prominent indicators that something is awry.
- Food Trapping: A partially erupted wisdom tooth can trap food and debris, leading to bacterial growth.
- Infections and Gum Disease: An impacted tooth can cause localized infections and contribute to periodontal disease.
- Tooth Decay: Partially erupted teeth are harder to clean, making them susceptible to decay.
- Adjacent Tooth Damage: An impacted wisdom tooth can also damage the second molar.
- Bone Damage: In severe cases, the growth of a wisdom tooth can damage your jawbone.
- Cyst Formation: Fluid-filled cysts can develop around an impacted wisdom tooth.
- Orthodontic Complications: Impacted wisdom teeth can interfere with orthodontic procedures to straighten your other teeth.
What to Expect During Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Navigating through a wisdom tooth extraction can be a daunting experience, but don’t worry — we’re here to guide you through the entire process.
Types of Anesthesia for Wisdom Tooth Extraction
You’ll remain awake, and although you’ll feel some pressure, the process is pain-free.
For those who prefer to be less aware during the extraction, an anesthesiologist can perform sedation anesthesia through an IV. You’ll be conscious but unaware, making the procedure a blur.
In more complex cases, general anesthesia is an option. You’ll be completely unconscious, waking up without memory of the procedure.
The Wisdom Tooth Extraction Procedure Step-by-Step
- Initial Incision: The oral surgeon cuts the gum to expose the tooth and bone.
- Bone Removal: Your dentist will remove obstructing bone to gain access to the tooth root.
- Tooth Division: Segmentation might be necessary in some cases for the dentist to facilitate easier removal.
- Extraction: Your dentist will remove the molar.
- Cleaning: The surgeon will clean out any remaining debris.
- Stitching: If necessary, you may undergo the application of stitches to help the wound heal.
- Gauze Placement: Your dentist will place gauze over the surgical site to control bleeding and help form a blood clot.
It’s normal to experience some blood oozing on the first day. Avoid excessive spitting to keep the blood clot intact.
Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medication can effectively manage post-surgery pain. Ice packs can also be your friend here!
Handling Swelling and Bruising
Expect some facial swelling, which usually subsides within a few days. Ice packs can help minimize this.
Keep it low-key for the rest of the day. Avoid any strenuous activities for at least a week.
Food and Beverage Guidelines
Stick to soft foods and lots of water initially. Steer clear of alcohol, caffeine, and hot or spicy foods.
Oral Hygiene Post-Surgery
Avoid brushing, spitting, or rinsing for 24 hours. After that, a gentle rinse with warm salt water is ideal.
Smoking or chewing tobacco can delay healing. Stay away from tobacco for at least 72 hours to a week post-surgery.
Some stitches dissolve on their own, while others may need removal. Keep track and consult with your oral surgeon as required.
When to Contact An Oral Surgeon?
Seek immediate consultation for symptoms like:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive bleeding
- Severe pain
These could indicate complications such as infection or nerve damage.
If all goes well, a follow-up appointment may not even be necessary. Pay attention to your body, and don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you notice anything amiss. You’ll be on the road to recovery in no time with proper care and attention.
How to Prepare for Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Are you scheduled for a wisdom tooth extraction soon? Knowing what to expect can alleviate uncertainty and anxiety surrounding this standard dental procedure. And here’s the best way you can prepare for the removal of your third molars:
Determine the Number of Wisdom Teeth for Removal
Knowing how many wisdom teeth need extraction helps you set realistic expectations for the procedure and recovery time. This information also aids in discussing payment plans or insurance coverage with your healthcare provider.
Understand Your Anesthesia Options
Will it be local anesthesia, or are you looking at sedation? It’s crucial for people who are anxious about dental procedures. Knowing the type of anesthesia can also influence post-surgery logistics, such as whether you’ll need someone to drive you home.
Know the Complexity and Duration of the Procedure
Discuss the complexity of your case with your dental healthcare provider. This discussion will show how long the procedure might last and whether you should prepare for any potential complications.
Assess the Impact on Surrounding Teeth
It’s essential to inquire whether the impacted wisdom teeth have caused any damage to adjacent teeth, as this could necessitate further dental treatments down the line.
Be Aware of the Risk of Nerve Damage
Some wisdom tooth extractions, especially complicated ones, may pose a risk of nerve damage. Knowing this upfront helps you weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision.
Know Future Dental Needs
Ask your dentist or oral surgeon about other dental treatments you might need, such as fillings, braces, or even additional extractions.
Confirm Recovery Timeframe
Understanding how long it will take to heal and return to regular activities can help you plan your post-surgery days better.
Planning for Your Wisdom Tooth Extraction Surgery
Arrange Post-Procedure Transportation
Most wisdom tooth extractions will leave you unfit to drive immediately after the procedure. Make sure you’ve arranged for someone to take you home.
Time Your Arrival
Double-check with the clinic or hospital staff when you must arrive for your procedure. Being on time is critical to ensuring everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Fast Before Surgery
Many surgeries require fasting, meaning you should avoid eating food or drinking liquids for a certain period before the procedure. Confirm these details with your healthcare provider.
Discuss Prescription Medication Guidelines
If you’re taking prescription medications, consult your healthcare provider about whether you can continue taking them before the procedure and when you should take the last dose.
Be Aware of Non-Prescription Drug Cautions
Some over-the-counter medications and supplements could interfere with the anesthesia or surgical process. Make sure you’ve cleared these with your dentist or oral surgeon beforehand.
Wisdom tooth extraction doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. Being prepared and knowing the right questions can go a long way in ensuring a smoother procedure and quicker recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do we need to extract wisdom teeth?
A: Most people do not have enough space in their mouths to accommodate the sudden emergence of a wisdom tooth or four, which can lead to various dental issues. Common problems include impaction, where the molars don’t erupt and get trapped beneath the gum line, causing pain and potential infection. They can also grow at odd angles, pushing against neighboring teeth, causing crowding, misalignment, and pain.
Q: When should you consider removing your wisdom teeth?
A: The timing for wisdom teeth extraction varies from person to person, but it’s better to consider removal during late adolescence or early adulthood. They may recommend extraction if they predict potential problems like impaction, crowding, pain, or infection. But not everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed, and you should decide in consultation with a dentist.
Q: What to expect during a wisdom teeth extraction procedure?
A: Dentists, if necessary, will incision your gum tissue, remove bones obstructing the tooth, and then extract the molar. But sometimes, they must divide the tooth into smaller pieces for easier removal. After extraction, the area is usually stitched up and covered with gauze to control bleeding. The process is relatively quick, lasting about 30-60 minutes
Q: What is the recovery process like after wisdom teeth extraction?
A: Immediately after the procedure, there may be swelling, pain, and bleeding, which typically subside over the next few days. Full recovery usually takes about one to two weeks, during which patients should attend any follow-up appointments scheduled by their dentist or oral surgeon.
Q: Are there any risks linked to wisdom teeth extraction?
A: Wisdom teeth extraction carries some risks, including infection, excessive bleeding, nerve damage, or injury to nearby teeth or structures. A dry socket is an excruciating condition you can develop where the blood clot in the extraction site gets dislodged. However, the risk of complications decreases with proper care and following post-operative instructions.
Get Wisdom Teeth Extraction in Tijuana
Wisdom teeth extraction is a dental procedure most of us have or will go through during our late adolescence, early adulthood, or any time in our lifetime! Dentists suggest doing it preventively to prevent potential oral health problems such as decay and gum disease. If you’re wondering whether you need to remove your wisdom tooth, talk to one of our many experts at Dr Mexico. They can help you decide what is best for your molars.