Wisdom teeth are a set of teeth that usually erupt behind your second molars when you are a young adult. Although these molars can be a great addition to your mouth, they can cause overcrowding and might not have enough space to grow and develop fully. These are called impacted wisdom teeth, and they need to be removed.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
If not caught early, impacted wisdom teeth can affect your other teeth and cause an array of dental complications.
Some people have space for their wisdom teeth, and they grow fully without any irregularities, but they are hard to maintain, exposing them to tooth decay and other dental issues.
Dentists will usually recommend removing these molars even if there are no symptoms to avoid any future complications that could arise.
What Causes Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
The leading cause for impacted wisdom teeth is that there is no more room left in the mouth for them to develop normally. These molars come in at the age of 17-25.
Impacted teeth are often misaligned and can:
- Grow in the direction of your second molar
- Grow towards the back of your mouth
- Grow inwards towards your other teeth
- Grow upwards or downwards but never cut through the gums and get trapped in the jawbone
How do you Know when Your Impacted Wisdom Teeth are Coming Out?
There are a few symptoms you might experience when you have impacted wisdom teeth.
Not only can these teeth become infected, but they can also damage your other teeth. Symptoms might include:
- Foul odor coming from your mouth
- Pain in your jaw
- Inflamed and swollen gums
- Swelling around the affected area
- Sensitive gums
- Bleeding gums
- Experiencing pain or finding it difficult to talk or eat
- Bad taste in your mouth
It would be best if you went for a dental check-up at least once every six months.
Speak to your dentist about any concerns; X-rays will be taken to determine if your wisdom teeth are growing and if they need to be removed.
In some cases, you will be referred to an oral surgeon for a more extensive evaluation.
If any irregularities are caught early, your dentist will suggest removing them before any severe problems occur.
As with most surgeries, the younger you are, the easier the procedure is, and the faster you heal afterward. This is due to the roots not being fully developed yet and less bone density.
If you choose to ignore your dentist’s recommendations, it could lead to a more painful and intricate removal in the future, so it is always best to have them extracted as early as possible.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth Complications
Complications related to impacted wisdom teeth can be severe and can cause:
- Tooth Decay
Wisdom teeth are more susceptible to decay in comparison to your other teeth. This is because they are harder to clean. In addition, food and bacteria get lodged between your gum and the partially erupted tooth.
There is a sack inside your jawbone where your wisdom teeth develop. This sac can fill with liquid, creating a cyst that can cause harm to your jawbone, nerves, and other teeth.
There have even been cases of tumors forming, but they are sporadic and mostly benign. However, they still need to be removed, which can require removing tissue and bone.
- Damage to your other teeth
If your wisdom teeth are growing in the direction of your second molar, it could damage or move your tooth. By damaging your molar, it increases the risk of infection in that area as well as tooth decay. It can also misalign your other teeth, and you might require a straightening treatment.
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Wisdom Teeth Removal
The procedure will vary depending on a few factors, like how far your wisdom teeth have developed and how they are positioned.
Your dentist will let you know what your treatment entails and if it will be an easy or complicated extraction during your initial consultation.
If your wisdom teeth have cut through the gums already, do not panic. In most cases, these are easily extracted; it’s when they are positioned under your gums, in your jawbone that makes extraction more complicated.
This will require your surgeon to cut into the gums and remove a section of the bone covering the tooth. Often in these situations, the tooth is removed in pieces to ensure that only a small section of bone is removed.
How to Prepare for the Extraction
Many people feel a lot of anxiety before any dental procedure. Here is a list of what you need for your extraction and to prepare you for your procedure mentally:
- Arrange a lift home after your surgery. The anesthetic could take a while to wear off, and it will be irresponsible to drive immediately after your extraction.
- Ensure you have asked your surgeon everything you wanted to know about the procedure and all it entails. It is always good to know exactly what you are in for and any risks, benefits, or alternatives.
- Disclose all the medications you take with your dentist, including supplements. There are specific medications that can enhance possible risks during your treatment. For example, some pain killers like aspirin can increase bleeding.
There are two ways this surgery can be done, in-office or in hospital. Extractions in hospitals are usually done when you have all your wisdom teeth removed on the same day.
The anesthetic will be administered to ensure your surrounding teeth and tissue are numb.
In some cases, if the patient is very anxious, they will be given a sedative. Once you are completely numb, the dentist will remove your wisdom teeth and stitch you up.
Your healing period will depend on the way your wisdom teeth had to be removed. If it is a more complicated removal, your healing period will be longer.
What to Expect within the First 24 Hours
You will experience some bleeding after your surgery. Your dentist should provide you with clean gauze that you can dampen with some water and apply to the affected area. You will need to bite down onto the gauze and apply pressure for around 45 minutes.
If you do not receive any gauze, a damp tea bag is a great alternative. There is tannic acid in tea which helps to form healing blood clots that are similar to scabs. If you find that there is still a tiny amount of bleeding, you can repeat the process.
If you are bleeding heavily, you should contact your dentist immediately. However, this is not normal, and your dentist will need to investigate the cause.
For the best results, avoid spitting or rinsing out your mouth for 24 hours after your procedure. Also, stay away from drinks with straws and do not smoke.
Although you will be on a liquid diet, avoid hot foods and drinks like coffee or soup. All these factors can cause the clot to detach, which can cause a dry socket to develop.
You will experience some swelling in the region where the teeth have been extracted. Some people tend to swell more than others.
To get the swelling to subside, you can place an ice pack or frozen vegetables over the area for about 10 minutes and leave it off for 20 minutes. You can repeat this as often as needed within 24 hours after the extraction.
You will experience some pain after your procedure. There are many over-the-counter pain medications you can take for minor pain or discomfort, like Tylenol or ibuprofen; however, your dentist may prescribe you stronger medications if needed.
- Your diet
You will be on a liquid diet until all your senses return after the anesthetic has worn off. So it would be best to stick to softer foods for the first week and if you are taking strong pain medication, stay away from alcohol.
- Practice good oral hygiene
It would be best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush until you have healed completely. For the first day, avoid brushing the teeth closer to the extraction site.
After 48 hours, you can continue brushing as usual, but ensure you are as gentle as possible. If you want to use a rinse, ask your surgeon to prescribe you an anti-bacterial mouthwash, and do not use a commercial option.
If you have any infection around the extraction site before the procedure, you will be prescribed some antibiotics, which you must take until the course is completed.
How will I know if my Wisdom Teeth are Infected?
Infected wisdom teeth or pericoronitis is one of the most common reasons for extraction. This generally happens when your mouth is too crowded, and there is no space for your wisdom teeth to grow.
- Inflamed, swollen gums behind your second set of molars
- Bad tastes or smells
- Pain or discomfort when using your molars to chew
- Pus draining from the area
- Swelling of the gum tissue, cheek, and area around the jaw
- Earache (pressure from swelling can radiate to the ear)
- Ear infection
- Sinus infection
What to Expect After the First 24 Hours
Swelling can last a while, but after the first 24 hours, you should use heat instead of cold to control the swelling. For example, you can use a dampened warm towel, apply it to the affected area for 20 minutes, and then remove it for 20 minutes. You can repeat this technique if necessary.
- Rinse out your mouth
Using a simple recipe of half a teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of warm water, gently rinse out your mouth after eating and before you go to sleep. You can also ask your dentist if they can prescribe a mouthwash for you.
If you require stitches and are not the dissolvable kind, they will need to be removed seven days post-surgery. Ensure that you know what type of stitches you have been given before returning home after your procedure.
Are there any Risks Involved with Wisdom Teeth?
Yes, there are risks involved with removing wisdom teeth, and the two most common are:
Although rare, paresthesia occurs when wisdom teeth are lodged in your jawbone close to your nerves. In some instances, these nerves are damaged when the tooth is removed, which causes a numbing of the tongue, lips, or chin, which could last a few days or even be permanent.
- Dry socket
A dry socket is when a healthy blood clot is not formed or is detached from the tooth socket. This will elongate the healing period.
If you feel any minor to severe pain 3-4 days after your procedure and have a terrible odor coming from your mouth, you should consult your dentist as they will need to insert some medication into the socket.
How much does it Cost to Extract Wisdom Teeth?
The first thing you should do is check with your dental insurance to see if they cover the cost of the extraction. Sometimes your insurer might only cover a portion of the payment, and you will be liable for the rest. Also, depending on your location and how many teeth you are removing, the price will vary.
Generally, the cost is as little as $99 per tooth. However, if you have a more complex extraction, you could expect to pay anywhere between $230-$340 per tooth, if not more.
Wisdom teeth come between 17-25 and usually need to be removed due to overcrowding or misalignment. Removal is done either in-office or at a hospital where you will be given an anesthetic. Once the area is numb, or you have fallen asleep, your wisdom teeth are extracted.
You will be on a liquid diet for the first 24 hours after your surgery, but make sure to stay away from hot foods or beverages like coffee and soup.
If you experience any pain after 3-4 days of the surgery, contact your surgeon as you might have a dry socket that requires your dentist to insert medication.