Wisdom teeth appear at the very end of dental development — they erupt when a person is in their twenties. Since they make their appearance after a person becomes mature and wise (in their twenties), they are called wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth appear at the back of the mouth, erupting from both the upper and lower jaw. Since they appear after all the teeth have taken their position in the mouth, they sometimes do not have enough space to come out. This can create a problem and may require them to be extracted. For some people, this is not an issue at all as the wisdom teeth have adequate space to be accommodated in the mouth.
But if the wisdom teeth are causing problems, they need to be extracted to prevent further complications.
To remove wisdom teeth, you need to visit a dentist. Removing them is typically only necessary when they are causing pain or affecting other teeth.
Dental issues related to wisdom teeth
One of the examples of dental issues that wisdom teeth can cause is that there may be a shift in the position of other teeth. This means that one or more teeth can move forward and become misaligned. This shift in position will result in the misalignment of other teeth.
Dental issues related to wisdom teeth can also cause pain, which could require extraction surgery. There are also risks of developing gum disease, which is another dental issue relating to wisdom teeth. The gum disease can result in decay or abscesses, which could be very dangerous.
When teeth are crowded, the teeth alignment in the mouth is disturbed. The crowded teeth will capture food debris between them and it is very difficult to clean between the spaces. The food will attract bacterial action and thereby decay.
Misalignment of teeth will cause pain and discomfort when food is consumed. Pain can even radiate towards the cheeks and neck.
Tooth decay leads to infection on the gum lining and damage to the bone tissues. Fluid filled cysts develop at the base of the wisdom teeth that boost the decay at a faster rate.
Tooth decay and overcrowding of teeth also have another annoying side effect – bad breath.
The oral health and confidence get affected. When these types of situations develop, wisdom teeth are extracted to protect the dental/oral health of the person.
The procedure of wisdom teeth removal
A dental examination is first conducted to decide whether the wisdom tooth needs to be extracted or not.
Physical examination and X-rays will be used to get a correct diagnosis of the problem.
The tooth extraction will be conducted under anaesthesia. The area will be numbed and the procedure will be conducted after the effect of the anaesthesia sets in.
If the wisdom tooth is not impacted, then extraction will not be a complex procedure. But impacted tooth can require more serious interventions like dental surgery. The dentist will first cut open the gum lining to expose the jaw bone. The bone usually covers the impacted teeth, so this bone will be removed.
If the whole teeth cannot be removed completely, then it will be removed after it is cut into sections. After the sections are removed, the area is cleaned and then stitched back. Slight bleeding may be seen and this will be closed with gauze.
Recovery after wisdom tooth extraction
After the wisdom tooth is extracted, the dentist or oral surgeon will give you specific instructions on what to do. However, there are some general guidelines.
Visit your dentist as soon as possible to have the tooth checked for proper healing.
The first day after surgery is usually spent resting at home with a warm salt water mouth rinse every once in a while. Keeping the area clean and free of debris can be achieved by using an interdental brush during this time.
It is important not to dislodge any blood clot that forms on the wound surface. As such, it is recommended that you avoid rinsing or spitting excessively, drinking through a straw, and smoking during the first two-three weeks post-op.
You should also eat soft foods if possible for the first few days after surgery, and take pain medication regularly.
Remember that you need to be very gentle with your gums during this time, avoid flossing or harsh movements of the jaw.
If bleeding occurs and the blood is bright red, seek medical help urgently because this may be a sign of uncontrolled haemorrhage or an infection.
Otherwise, if there are no other problems in the area, you will usually experience little discomfort outside of mild pain medication after two weeks post-op when your dentist removes sutures. Finally remember that healing takes between 3-4 months following wisdom teeth extraction so don’t expect miracles.
Patients tend to feel a certain degree of pain in the immediate hours following a wisdom tooth extraction. This pain is commonly around a 3 or 4 out of 10 on a pain scale. It is recommended that patients take over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen to decrease swelling and help manage all types of mild to moderate post-operative pain.
In some cases, the dentist may prescribe stronger medication that helps block nerve sensations from reaching the brain. If the pain is more intense, or if it becomes unbearable, then professional help should be sought.
Wisdom teeth extraction recovery time
After having a wisdom tooth removed, one can expect to experience swelling and bruising around the face and neck area. The patient may also experience some bleeding from their surgical wound region.
For patients who have had multiple lower-jaw (mandibular) wisdom teeth extracted, there could be problems with movement of their jaw for up to two weeks after surgery due to muscle fatigue and stiffness. It typically takes about 10 days for these types of wounds to heal properly.
After the first five days post-surgery, most individuals feel well enough to carry on with most of their regular activities.
Continuing dental care after wisdom tooth extraction
After the wisdom teeth removal procedure is done and healing is complete, the dental and oral health restoration continues.
When the wisdom teeth are removed, the remaining adult teeth have enough space to occupy and their alignment is proper. The issues that are present with the improper erupting of wisdom teeth have been removed and the symptoms that were present before the wisdom teeth removal will also vanish.
Not everyone has problems with wisdom teeth, some might even not notice that the wisdom teeth have erupted as it happens smoothly and there is space at the back of the mouth to accommodate them.