Wisdom Teeth: What You Need To Know

wisdom_teeth_OPTWisdom teeth are the last set of teeth people acquire in their teens and twenties. These teeth are useful if they align properly, but when they don’t, they usually require removal.

Misaligned wisdom teeth can cause damage to the jawbone, nerves, and adjacent teeth. They promote crowding and affect all other teeth.

Wisdom teeth can become impacted when they fail to break the gum surface, or they can partially break through the gum and increase the risk of infection and tooth decay.

Ask your dentist to take X-rays to locate and assess the quality of your wisdom teeth. If problematic, your dentist may recommend having an oral surgeon remove one or more of your wisdom teeth.

Removal

The process of removal depends on the position of the wisdom teeth. Those fully above the gum line can be removed like a regular tooth. Ones completely under the gum may require surgery. In surgical situations, the tooth is removed in sections to decrease the amount of bone removed.

Recovery

Recovery depends on the severity of the removal process. Recovery from an erupted wisdom tooth is much shorter than from an impacted one.

The First 24 Hours

  • Expect bleeding for the first several hours after surgery. Keep gauze over the area and apply pressure by biting down for about 45 minutes. Avoid rinsing, spitting, and sucking for about 24 hours. Call your surgeon if heavy bleeding persists.
  • You may experience facial swelling around the extracted tooth. Minimize swelling using ice in a cloth for 10 minutes and remove for 20 minutes. Repeat this for the first 24 hours if necessary.
  • Over the counter pain medication may be taken, or your surgeon can prescribe a strong pain reliever.
  • Antibiotics should be taken before surgery and continue until you are fully healed.
  • Consume only liquids until the anesthesia wears off, and then eat only soft foods for several days.
  • Brush your teeth except for the teeth around the extraction. Do not use mouth rinses as they can irritate the gums around the extraction.

After 24 Hours

  • Apply a warm, moist towel for 20 minutes to areas of facial swelling. Remove towel for 20 minutes and repeat as needed.
  • Rinse your mouth with ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water after meals. Do not use mouth rinse as it may still irritate the area.
  • If stitches were used, they are likely self-dissolving, If not, you will need to return to your surgeon in about one week for removal.

Call to learn more or to schedule an appointment.