Most people dont even know if they have wisdom teeth. We normally only think of them when they need to be removed, and when they are taken out, typically your jaw swells up like a chipmunk, and afterwards you get to have ice cream. However, there is more to them that that:
Wisdom teeth are technically called third molars. They usually erupt (pierce through the gum) around the age of 17-22, a time that was once referred to as the “age of wisdom”.
Most have to be removed. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, an estimated 85% of wisdom teeth eventually need to be removed.
35% of us are born without wisdom teeth.
Studies are being conducted to prevent their growth. Wisdom teeth are the only teeth not formed in the womb. Because most people opt to have surgery to remove them, we are searching for ways to prevent their growth altogether.
90% of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.
Diet may be responsible for impacted wisdom teeth. Early humans had more wear on their teeth due to a tough diet. Wisdom teeth were able to emerge because there was more space.
Why Extract Wisdom Teeth? A wisdom tooth is extracted to prevent future problems or correct an existing issue.
Your wisdom teeth may break partway through your gums, causing a flap of gum tissue to cover them. Food and bacteria can get trapped under the gum and cause redness, swelling, and pain. This is referred to pericornitis, you may need to see your dentist to prescribe you antibiotics if an abscess is present.
When your jaw is too small to allow the wisdom tooth to errupt, we call this an impacted wisdom tooth.
Impacted teeth can cause serious problems, such as an infection, damage to the adjacent teeth (2nd molar) and bone, or cysts.
One or more of your wisdom teeth may come in at an awkward angle, with the top of the tooth facing forward, backward, or to either side preventing access for proper brushing and flossing of the region.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Treats:
Crowded back teeth.
Gum disease and tooth decay in the wisdom tooth, which may be harder to clean than other teeth.
Red, swollen, and painful gums caused by a flap of skin around a wisdom tooth that has only partially come in.
An impacted wisdom tooth that impacts the health of the adjacent teeth.
The Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure
Step 1: You may be asked for an X-ray of the entire mouth or the area in which you are experiencing pain.
Step 2: The dentist will decide if a surgery is required. In some cases, such as in the presence of an infection, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and postpone the extraction until the infection is reduced.
Step 3: Depending on the severity of your case and how many teeth must be removed, your dentist will decide on whether to inject a local or a general anaesthesia. If general anaesthesia is required you will be asked keep your stomach empty for at least 12 hours before the surgery. Nitrous oxide or intravenous sedatives are commonly given.
Step 4: The tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth is opened.
Step 5: The tissue that connects the tooth and the bone is separated and the tooth is gently removed. In more complexe cases, the tooth may be sectioned in several pieces to facilitate removal.
Step 6: The depression caused by extraction is covered and stitched that will dissolve with your saliva in 7-10days.
Step 7: Cotton gauze are placed to apply pressure in the area to stop the bleeding.
Step 8: Your doctor will give you instructions on how to protect the area of the newly removed tooth (e.g. no hot food/drinks, abstain from alcoholic beverages, keep head elevated during sleep). To avoid a dry socket (which is very painful), you must avoid spitting, using a straw, or smoking for the next 48hrs following your surgery. Otherwise, the healing process will be delayed and will be much more unpleasant.
How Long Does the Extraction Process Take? Depending on the complexity of the case, removal of all four wisdom teeth can take between 35min to 1hour. If you are feeling sensitivity, pressure, pain, or swelling near the back of your jaw, you may have a problem with your wisdom teeth. If so, you should consult your dentist immediately!