Wisdom teeth, or third molars, usually begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25 and are the final set of molars that most people get. While many will eventually have their wisdom teeth removed, not everyone needs to do so. Most dental professionals will recommend having oral surgery for wisdom teeth if you experience any of the following scenarios:
Your wisdom teeth do not fit in your mouth. Most people have 28 teeth before wisdom teeth erupt. Many do not have enough room in their jaw for 32 teeth and this may cause the wisdom teeth to become impacted. Impaction means that the teeth cannot fully erupt or they may become misaligned if they do. Oral surgery for wisdom teeth can help to prevent further complications in your jaw.
You experience chronic pain in your gums around your wisdom teeth. Pain in your gums can be an indication of infection. Infections are common around partially erupted wisdom teeth because food and bacteria get trapped in these areas. Having your wisdom teeth removed can help prevent further infection.
Your wisdom teeth do not come in straight. Often, wisdom teeth will not grow in straight and can possibly cause your teeth to shift and move over time. To prevent your teeth from moving, oral surgery for wisdom teeth is often recommended.
Your wisdom teeth are causing tooth decay to adjacent teeth. Wisdom teeth can be difficult to keep clean because of their location in the mouth. Flossing and brushing can be challenging and without good oral care, gum disease and tooth decay can develop. Wisdom tooth extractions can help to prevent tooth decay issues in surrounding teeth as well as the wisdom teeth.
What happens during surgery?
Prior to the surgery date, your doctor will discuss the procedure with you and let you know what to expect before, during, and after the extraction. On the day of your wisdom tooth extraction, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area. You may also be given a general anesthetic, especially if all of your wisdom teeth will be removed at one time. The general anesthetic will prevent pain and will give you the illusion of having slept through the entire procedure.
To remove the wisdom teeth, your doctor will open the gum tissue around the tooth and remove any bone that is over the tooth. The whole tooth is then either extracted or cut into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove. After the tooth extraction, you may need stitches.
There are several factors that will affect how easy it is to remove the wisdom teeth. If the tooth has fully erupted, it is a similar procedure to a typical tooth extraction. However, if the tooth is fully impacted or if the teeth have not erupted through the gums, oral surgery for wisdom teeth may be more complicated.
Frequently Asked Questions When Having Oral Surgery for Wisdom Teeth
1. Will all of my wisdom teeth be removed?
Since the needs of each patient are unique, it is important to discuss your options with your doctor. During your consultation, your doctor will discuss how many wisdom tooth extractions will be needed in order to prevent future dental issues. The doctor may choose to remove all wisdom teeth at once or to just remove a few potentially problematic teeth.
2. What type of anesthesia will be used?
Our office uses different types of general anesthesia during oral surgery for wisdom teeth extractions. To learn more about the various forms of sedation we offer, visit the Sedation page of our website.
3. How long does the procedure take?
The duration of your procedure depends on how many wisdom tooth extractions are needed. Usually, the procedure lasts about one to two hours.
4. How long until I am completely healed after surgery?
Complete healing does not fully occur for a few weeks to even a few months after tooth extraction. However, after about two weeks, your mouth will be reasonably comfortable.
5. Are there any potential post-surgery complications?
There are two potential complications that may occur following oral surgery for wisdom teeth. Dry socket is a common complication that occurs when a blood clot has failed to form in the extracted tooth socket or when a clot has been dislodged. Dry sockets usually occur three to four days after the tooth extraction and are accompanied by pain and a foul mouth odor. Dry sockets are easily treated by placing a medication in the socket.
Paresthesia is a less common complication that occurs when nerves in the jaw bone are bruised or damaged during the tooth extraction process. This may result in numbness, or paresthesia, of the tongue, lip, or chin that can last days, weeks, or be permanent.
6. Will I have to miss work or school?
Most patients usually have to miss at least one to two days of work or school after their oral surgery for wisdom teeth. Your doctor may prescribe painkillers that will make it difficult to focus as they may make you dizzy or sleepy. Patients are asked to keep ice on the outside of their face for at least 24 hours to prevent inflammation or swelling. Your doctor will also recommend avoiding physical activity, as it may increase bleeding. After a few days of recovery, most patients are able to return to their daily activities with little to no problem.
7. My doctor does wisdom tooth extractions. Should I still see an oral surgeon to have my oral surgery for wisdom teeth?
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons (OMS) are the only dental specialists recognized by the American Dental Association who are surgically trained in a hospital based residency program for a minimum of four years. OMS train alongside medical residents in internal medicine, general surgery, and anesthesiology, and spend time in otolaryngology, plastic surgery, emergency medicine, and other specialty areas. Their training focuses almost exclusively on the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and jaws. Their knowledge and surgical expertise uniquely qualifies them to diagnose and treat the functional and esthetic conditions in this anatomical area.
8. What is the best age to have wisdom teeth removed?
Since each patient is unique, the ideal age to have oral surgery for wisdom teeth may vary. Most doctors will recommend having them removed before they are fully developed to prevent crowding after eruption. Younger patients also tend to heal faster and with fewer complications than older patients.
9. What if I chose not to have my wisdom teeth removed now?
Even if you chose to wait to have your wisdom teeth removed, it is important to continuously monitor them. Your mouth can change over time and it is possible to develop problems later in life. As with many other health conditions, we are at a greater risk for health problems as we age and that risk includes potential problems with the wisdom teeth.
If you need oral surgery for wisdom teeth, we can provide you with experience and expertise for this procedure. Call us today to schedule your consultation for wisdom tooth extractions.