Wisdom teeth are extracted to prevent or correct problems in the mouth. Even if you are not experiencing pain, wisdom teeth removal may be necessary to prevent painful impaction.
When Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Necessary?
Even when wisdom teeth are not causing problems, they may be removed as a preventative effort. Waiting could lead to fractured teeth, jaw damage or infection. Some reasons wisdom teeth are extracted include:
- A risk to the other molars—as wisdom teeth come in, they could push your other teeth around, causing damage to teeth and bite problems
- Cysts that may form around the wisdom teeth, leading to nerve damage and jaw problems
- Inflammation of the tissue around the wisdom teeth and gums
- Problems with sinuses, leading to excess pressure and congestion
- Swelling of the gums, which can make it difficult to clean the teeth and lead to cavities
- Misalignment of teeth which may require expensive braces, dentures or other corrective procedures later on
What To Expect During Your Tooth Extraction Procedure
Your dentist or oral surgeon typically performs this procedure in-office. If you are having multiple teeth pulled at once or if you are at high risk for complications, the procedure may be performed in a nearby hospital.
During the procedure, your oral surgeon will use one of two anesthesia options to relax you. A local anesthetic may be all that you require if only one tooth is being removed. If you require multiple extractions, it is more likely your surgeon will use general anesthesia.
During the extraction process, your dentist or oral surgeon will:
- Make an incision in the gum, exposing the bone and tooth that is about to be extracted.
- Remove any bones that block access to the wisdom teeth.
- Break the wisdom teeth into smaller, manageable pieces for easier removal.
- Remove the tooth and then clean the site to remove any remaining debris, bone or tooth.
- Stitch up the wound. While not all extractions require stitches, the stitches may allow the area to heal better than if the wound is left open.
- Place gauze over the site to help control bleeding and allow clots to form at the surgical site.
Recovering From Wisdom Teeth Removal
If you were given general anesthesia, you will be in a recovery room for a few hours after your procedure for monitoring. You will still go home the same day after the procedure. Your surgeon will provide you with strict aftercare instructions and you must rest the remainder of the day. You will need to avoid strenuous activities for a week to prevent knocking any blood clots loose. After the surgery, you must drink lots of water, but avoid carbonated drinks, caffeine or hot beverages for 24 hours. No drinking from a straw for up to a week (straws can also break loose your blood clots).
You may be prescribed something for pain management depending on the extent of the extraction. Most over-the-counter pain relievers will help with discomfort and swelling. You can also use a cold pack against your jaw to reduce pain.
It is important to follow the aftercare instructions, especially regarding food, drink and cleaning your mouth. If you notice excess bleeding or swelling, contact your dentist right away.
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