Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars, and they usually emerge between the ages of 17-25. This last set of molars often causes complications due to overcrowding with the other teeth, and therefore are often removed by a dentist or oral surgeon.
Problems Caused by Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth can grow at an angle or become trapped in the jawbone because they lack the space to grow properly. This may not be noticeable right away, but over time it can cause damage to the other teeth and the gums. Also, because wisdom teeth often do not fully erupt, they may become impacted. This is when the wisdom tooth is partially enclosed within the soft tissue and jawbone around the tooth and partially erupted from the gum. Impacted teeth are harder to reach with a tooth brush and they expose the soft tissue to bacteria, which can lead to infection and cavities.
Wisdom Teeth Symptoms
Wisdom teeth problems may present as red and swollen gums, tender or bleeding gums, bad breath, swollen jaw, unpleasant taste, pain in the mouth, or headaches. These wisdom teeth symptoms may worsen when chewing toward the back of the mouth. Complications from misaligned or impacted wisdom teeth can lead to tooth decay and/or gum disease. Also, wisdom teeth sometimes grow in a sac within the jawbone that can fill with fluid to become a cyst. Treating the cyst may necessitate the removal of bone and tissue around the area.
When to Remove Wisdom Teeth
Dentists and oral surgeons will sometimes remove wisdom teeth before they become a serious concern to a patient’s oral health in order to avoid problems later in life. Extraction is also easier on younger people, as the wisdom teeth roots have not fully developed and the bone is less dense. Older patients usually have longer recovery times and a more involved healing process because wisdom teeth symptoms may make the removal process more difficult. Some doctors prefer not to remove wisdom teeth before they pose a serious issue to the patient because they argue that there is not enough evidence supporting wisdom teeth removal for everyone.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Procedure
Wisdom teeth removal is most commonly an outpatient procedure (the patient can go home the same day of the surgery). The oral surgeon may opt to use either local anesthetic plus a sedative or general anesthesia. If the wisdom tooth has fully erupted through the gum, it can be extracted just like any other tooth. However, if the tooth is embedded into the jawbone underneath the gum, the surgeon will create an incision into the gums and remove a part of the bone that is trapping the tooth. Once the tooth is fully removed, the surgeon closes the wound with stitches and packs the empty space (socket) with gauze.
Possible Post-Surgery Complications
Post-surgery complications may include dry socket (when the blood clot is dislodged from the socket, therefore exposing bone), infected socket, weakened jawbone, damaged sinuses near the upper wisdom teeth, and damage to nerves in the mouth. Your dentist and oral surgeon will explain the likelihood of the complications and the best ways to avoid them. Most surgeons recommend a few days to relax while recovering, and eating only soft foods during that time. Do not use a straw or brush your teeth for the first couple of days after removal as this could dislodge the clot, causing dry socket.
Wisdom teeth symptoms do not cause problems for every patient, especially if the patient is young. However, some dentists recommend that they be removed even before complications arise because extraction is easier on younger people and will prevent wisdom teeth symptoms such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Categories: Wisdom Teeth Removal