It’s a classic coming-of-age story… getting your wisdom teeth out! We’ve all heard horror stories about wisdom teeth extractions and while some of them may be true, the procedure is extremely common and safe in general. Most people grow extra teeth called “wisdom teeth” behind their molars in the very back of their mouths around their teenage years or early adulthood.
Though wisdom teeth don’t serve any special purpose now, they developed as replacement teeth for when our ancestors used to eat rough, uncooked vegetation that would wear their regular teeth away more quickly. Regardless of how they came to be, most of us need to remove our molars if they begin to pose a threat to our dental health.
What are signs that I need to get my wisdom teeth pulled?
Wisdom teeth extractions are a very common procedure, but not everyone needs one. Some people don’t even grow wisdom teeth! Unless the wisdom teeth are impeding on the growth and development of your other teeth, jaws, or gums, they actually can just be left in the mouth. Only your doctor can give you definitive advice about whether or not to get your wisdom teeth taken out. However, there are signs that may indicate you need to see the dentist urgently for a wisdom tooth removal. These include:
- Throbbing pain at the back of the teeth
- Redness, tenderness, bleeding, or swelling at the back of the gums
- Visible signs of wisdom teeth pushing other teeth out of alignment
- Bad breath or cavities near the wisdom teeth
If you start to notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, the wisdom teeth can move or crack other teeth and press down on nerves and bones. Over a long period of time, this could even result in gum and tissue damage, making the mouth vulnerable to infection and cysts.
What are impacted wisdom teeth?
When wisdom teeth don’t have enough space to erupt, they can get stuck below the line. This could occur because the wisdom teeth are growing in the wrong direction and become blocked by a tooth. They could also get stuck because there’s not enough space to come up. Either way, an impacted tooth could become a major problem if it gets in the way of another tooth or bone.
Since these types of wisdom can’t simply be pulled out, the dentist needs to surgically remove it by cutting into the gums and sewing them back up afterward. Some procedures may also require the dentist to crack the tooth into several pieces to get them all out if the tooth is too big. It’s also possible for a tooth to be partially impacted. In this case, surgery would still be needed.
Can my dentist remove wisdom teeth?
Most general or family dentists will be able to remove wisdom teeth. They can identify and diagnose whether an extraction is needed with x-rays, which allow them to see below the surface of the gumline. X-rays also help the dentist see how far the wisdom teeth extend and estimate what steps would need to be taken to remove the teeth.
Getting 1 or 2 teeth removed from the same side of the mouth allows you to eat out of the other side, but you can also get them all removed at once. Ultimately, it depends on how comfortable your dentist is with multiple extractions and how urgent the situation is. Wisdom teeth removal shouldn’t take longer than 2 – 3 hours at a time.
While your dentist is trained to remove wisdom teeth, they may recommend you to an oral surgeon for particularly difficult situations. For example, deeply impacted teeth may require a specialist. Other situations that could necessitate an oral surgeon include the development of a cyst or a patient who needs to be heavily sedated.
Does it hurt to get wisdom teeth removed?
Don’t believe the scary stories you hear – getting wisdom teeth shouldn’t hurt at all. Your doctor will use a numbing gel in addition to an anesthetic to ensure you don’t feel any pain throughout the procedure. For patients who are getting all their teeth removed at once or who have dental anxiety, you can request to be completely sedated, so you don’t feel any pain at all.
Once the procedure is over, on the other hand, it’s likely you may feel some soreness, throbbing, swelling, and pain because the anesthetic has worn off. This is normal, so the doctor can prescribe you a mild painkiller to reduce the discomfort. There may also be some bleeding as the area where your wisdom tooth used to be heals up.
During recovery, avoid consuming hard or crunchy foods. Straws can also suction off the stitches, so try not to use them. As time goes on, your dentist will give you a syringe or mouthwash to clean out the hole that your wisdom tooth left behind. Make sure to keep the area clean, so it doesn’t get infected!
Our dentist understands how scary it can be to go in for a wisdom tooth removal, but he wants to assure patients there’s nothing to fear. In fact, leaving wisdom teeth in the mouth can be more harmful than getting them out! Feel free to give us a call at Dental Studio of Pasadena if you have any more questions. We’re always happy to help.