When questions about wisdom teeth arrive, many people are confused about how and why they are removed. Adolescents and young adults are among the most common group needing their wisdom teeth extracted.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
One wisdom tooth grows in the back of each quadrant of the mouth. They are the third molar. First molars fully develop when a person turns approximately six, second molars at 12, and third between 17 and 21. They are normal in that they are formed and used the same as any other tooth. However, that only happens when they develop properly. This does not always happen.
When Should They be Removed?
There are a number of reasons a dentist may recommend extraction of wisdom teeth. Some of the most common are:
- Impaction: If the tooth does not have enough room to grow in, it can disrupt the mouth. The adjacent molar can become loose, requiring attention. The shortage of room can also put undue pressure on the jaw. Often this results in pain, headache, or jaw stiffness.
- Growing at an Angle: If the tooth leans toward the nearest molar, it can put that neighboring tooth at risk. The increased difficulty in keeping that second molar clean may even lead to cavities. Additionally, the slant can create hard-to-reach pockets in the gum. Those periodontal pockets are breeding grounds for gum disease and recession.
- Difficulty Cleaning: When the wisdom teeth are placed in such a way that proper hygiene is difficult to maintain, decay may set in. Under these circumstances, removal is the only option.
What Does the Procedure Entail?
In removing wisdom teeth, most patients are anesthetized via a general anesthetic through an IV and additionally a local anesthetic is applied to numb the patient’s mouth.
Once the surgery has begun, bone or soft tissue blocking the wisdom tooth is removed. The wisdom tooth and its root are then extracted. Symptoms most commonly experienced postoperatively are swelling, pain, and bleeding. Always take special note of aftercare procedures recommended by the surgeon. These will assist greatly in treating discomfort.
How to Manage the Process?
Symptoms will often last for a few days after a wisdom tooth extraction. It is suggested that the patient avoid smoking or drinking alcohol, as these can impede the body’s ability to heal. Try to remain relaxed, and always let the surgeon know if any changes occur after exiting the office.