With age comes wisdom. Specifically, wisdom teeth. From infancy to adolescence, our teeth erupt in stages. Thus first incisors, then canines, premolars and molars and finally, wisdom teeth. Historically, these teeth have been called wisdom teeth because they come through at a more mature age. Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties.
Wisdom teeth grow in at the back of the mouth, behind your molars. There is a set on the bottom as well as the top. In total, adults can expect to get four wisdom teeth. Dentists call them third molars. When they come through correctly, healthy wisdom teeth can help you chew well. They often grow in crooked, sideways, or otherwise misaligned. As they grow in, they can push on other teeth, causing problems of overcrowding and misalignment for them as well.
Besides, they can also be impacted. They can be enclosed within the soft tissue and/or the jawbone. But sometimes, they only partially break through or erupt through the gum. Partial eruption of the wisdom teeth allows an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth. This can cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness.
However, some people don’t experience a single problem with their wisdom teeth, but in others, they can cause pain, infection and other instances of discomfort. Often the discomfort and pain will go away on its own, but sometimes wisdom needs removal. The procedure is usually a quick procedure one using local anaesthetic, with a recovery time of a couple of days.
When Do Wisdom Teeth Come In?
Wisdom teeth usually come in between the ages of 17 and 21 years old. If you’re thinking about putting the surgery off, think again. When you are young, the roots are not completely strong. Also, the surrounding bone is softer, which leaves less chance for damaging nearby nerves. Your roots will continue to grow with age. This makes wisdom teeth surgery more painful and prone to complications as you get older. The older you get, the more difficult wisdom teeth surgery can become.
How do i know if i have wisdom teeth?
Ask your dentist about the positioning of your wisdom teeth. He or she may take an X-ray periodically to evaluate for the presence and alignment of your wisdom teeth. Your dentist may also decide to send you to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.
Wisdom teeth removal
Yes. But before the procedure, your dentist will talk you through how to prepare. Smokers will need to stop their habit several weeks before the operation. This is to avoid the chances of complications.
When it comes to the procedure itself, a local anaesthetic will be used to block the pain from your nerves but you will remain awake throughout. Besides, a sedative may be given if you are nervous. This is to help you relax whilst the procedure takes place.
However, if your case is particularly challenging then you may need to go to a hospital to see an oral surgeon specialist to plan and complete the treatment. The fear most people have is pain during the treatment. However, the procedure itself is actually pain-free. The pain after the procedure is typical of any surgical procedure.
Wisdom tooth removal is generally straightforward. The extraction can take as little as a minute. Using specialized instruments the teeth socket can be widen. The tooth is then rocked back and forth in order to loosen the fine ligament that holds it in place, and is then removed it.
If impaction highly occurs, it could be necessary for the dentist to make a small incision in your gum. This is to gain access to the tooth. Once removed, the dentist will use stitches (usually dissolvable) to help your gums to heal. The procedure can take around 20 to 30 minutes to complete.
After the removal
If you were given a general anaesthetic although rare these days you will need a friend or family member to take you home. You need someone to take care of you for the next 24 hours. Because, the lingering effects of the anaesthesia can affect your behaviour and judgement.
Local anaesthetics have less impact immediately after the procedure. But you will likely have numbness in your mouth for a few hours. Therefore, be careful not to scald yourself with hot food or drink.
You will take anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics while you recover. If not, and you need OTC painkillers such as ibuprofen but avoid aspirin. Because, blood clots help with the healing process. However aspirin can complicate this by thinning the blood.
When brushing, avoid the affected area for a couple of days. Use a mouthwash to help keep the area clean. You may also want to stick to softer foods while the gum heals. Also, avoid chewing with the teeth near the removal site.
If you are experiencing extreme pain or swelling, have extensive bleeding or notice that you have a temperature then you should consult your dentist immediately.
In the days following the removal your face may feel swollen or sore but this should soon pass. In other cases there is the possibility of an unexpected reaction to anaesthetic or other complications such as accidental damage to teeth, nerves, sockets or infection.
Other complications depend on the specifics of your situation. Your dentist will inform you of them ahead of the procedure.