Everyone’s mouth goes through many changes in the whole span of a lifetime. One major change or dental milestone takes place when the third molars start to appear inside the oral cavity. The third molar teeth have been called wisdom teeth as they come at an age when a person starts to mature. Wisdom teeth are the last molars on each side of lower and upper jaws. They are the third set of molars at the end of the oral cavity. They usually start to grow between the age of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth only emerge partially and become crooked which can lead to pain and gum diseases. Since it’s at the border of your mouth, there is not much space left for it to grow, as a result, it lands upon neighboring tooth and jaw which results in immense pain.
Identifying the wisdom teeth
In this step, the patient would take help from his dentist. A dentist would tell the patient about where the wisdom teeth are positioned. The dentist would take an X-ray periodically in order to evaluate the presence and see how is the wisdom teeth aligned since it is at the end of the jaw. It cannot be seen without an X-ray.
After conducting the X-ray, the dentist would suggest whether there is a need to get the wisdom teeth extracted before problems start to develop. This is done for avoiding pain and also to avoid a complicated removal that might take place a few years later. Removing wisdom teeth is easier at a younger age because roots are not fully grown and the bone is dense. As the person starts to age, healing and recovery time also gets longer.
Problems caused by Wisdom Teeth
In certain situations, the wisdom tooth appears below the jawline on X-rays then it becomes necessary for the dentist to remove the tooth as it can cause various problems which include the following:
- They might damage other teeth which occur in most cases. The wisdom tooth starts pushing the adjoining teeth resulting and jaw pain and biting issues.
- It also results in damaged jaws, if the cysts develop around the unerupted teeth. If the cyst is not treated immediately, it can cause the damaging effect to the jaws or impinge the nerves.
- Unerupted or partially erupted wisdom tooth can also result in congestion, extreme pressure or sinus pain.
- It also causes the gums to inflame. The tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth might swell up making brushing and cleaning around that are difficult for the patient.
- Swollen gums result in pocket formation between teeth, which enhances the impaction of bacteria in such areas resulting in the formation of cavities.
- Impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth results in crowding of the teeth within the oral cavity which makes the orthodontic treatment or teeth alignment difficult for the dentist.
Why are wisdom teeth removed?
The wisdom teeth are removed when they are impacted, stuck or in conditions where the jaw doesn’t have enough space to accommodate a new erupting tooth. The impacted tooth can either result in fracture of the jaw. At times, the wisdom tooth appears adjacent to other teeth in such a way that either it hurts the tooth or pushes it against other teeth. Some dentists prefer to take the teeth out before only, to avoid any problems occurring in the future.
Dentists also prefer to get the teeth removed at an early age to avoid any problem because later on as a person starts to age, the bones in the mouth also start getting harder making teeth tougher to remove. Here are some of the following situations listed, when the wisdom teeth are removed.
- Becomes impacted: Since wisdom teeth are at the termination of your mouth, it may not come in normally. They can be trapped in jawbone or gums, which can be extremely painful.
- Wrong angle: Sometimes wisdom teeth are pressed against other teeth, this means that they are growing in a wrong angle and hence, there is a need to remove them.
- Small Mouth: Mouth lacks space for another tooth to grow, which results in mouth ulcers as the tooth is making space on the gums.
Due to a number of problems caused by wisdom teeth, and bad angles it results in a lot of pain in the mouth, at times it gets so severe that, a person is unable to eat. Hence, dentists recommend getting them removed, rather than tolerating all the pain.
The procedure is not a long one. Surgery would take 45-60 minutes. Before the surgery the dentist would inject anesthesia, to avoid pain during the surgery. There are three types of anesthesia given to patients.
- Local anesthesia, this would numb the mouth. This would be given with Novocain in the gums. The patient may breathe nitrous oxide, to relax or even go unconscious during the surgery. The person would gain consciousness soon after or during the surgery.
- IV sedation can also be used to numb mouth. This would be given through a vein in the patient’s arm to make the patient feel drowsy. The patient is likely to sleep the whole time during the procedure takes place.
- General anesthesia would be given through a vein in the arm or a breathing gas through a mask. The patient would be asleep the whole time of the procedure and would not wake up the whole time or even for an hour or so after the surgery.
While the extraction surgery is taking place, the dentist would start things step by step first,
- The dentist would make an incision in the gum tissue in order to expose the tooth and bone.
- Then, removes the bone that blocks access to the tooth root and divides the tooth into sections so removing pieces becomes easier.
- Removes the tooth.
- Cleans the mouth of any debris from the tooth or bone and stitches the wound closed for promoting healing.
- Places gauze over the extracted space to control bleeding.
There are also some precautions that need to be followed before and after the procedure takes place in order to have a successful surgery. After having the teeth extracted, the speed of recovery depends on various factors, such as the degree of difficulty in the extraction. Simple extraction of a tooth versus extraction of an impacted tooth would have a difference in the recovery time. There would be some symptoms after the removal for 24 hours.
Things to follow
- Make the maximum use of ice pack to curb swelling or changing skin color.
- Use moist heat for sore jaws.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat soft chewable food, pasta, rice or soup.
- Exercise your jaw, by gently opening and closing your mouth.
- Take the medicines prescribed to ease the pain.
- Brush your teeth gently, starting from the second day. Avoid any blood clots.
- Make a call to your dentist if the pain gets severe or swelling doesn’t improve.
- Apply ice to overcome swelling.
Things to avoid
- Avoid making use of straw, as sucking loosens the blood clots that helps mouth to heal.
- Avoid rinsing your mouth very harshly.
- It’s preferred to rinse your mouth with salt water.
- Don’t eat hard, crunchy or sticky foods that could scratch wounds.
- Avoid smoking as it slows down the healing process.
- Don’t lay flat, insert pillows to lift up your head or else bleeding would start to occur.
- Don’t spit forcefully and avoid any pressure.
- Avoid brushing on the area from where the tooth has been extracted.
With tooth extraction procedure, there are some complications and risks associated with it. These include infections which result in the delayed healing process. This is likely to occur in a situation when a patient smokes during the recovery period. Hence smoking is strictly prohibited. Another possible complication is the dry socket, this is known as a dull aching sensation that patients feel in their gums or jaw soon after extraction. Sometimes there’s also a bad smell or taste coming from the mouth, which is because of the empty tooth socket. If instructions are not followed properly then the occurrence of dry socket is more likely.
There’s also a minor risk of nerve damage, which can cause a numb sensation on tongue, chin, teeth, and gums. This is temporary and in very rare cases it becomes permanent. All the complications are usually likely to arise when proper instructions are not being followed. If proper instructions are being followed by the patient and oral care routine is being followed, then chances of complications occurring are very low.
When to call the dentist?
Sometimes a person is unable to get hold of the situation and becomes helpless on what to do next. Any pain and swelling would improve each day, but in case if a patient feels that it’s not happening, he may contact his dentist or even if he experiences something else is wrong then the dentist should be contacted.
- Rather than getting better swelling is getting worse day by day.
- Excessive bleeding that is not stopping with subside pressure even.
- Severe, throbbing pain even after three, four days after the surgery.
- Fever that persists.
There are some people who don’t wish to get their wisdom teeth removed, if someone decides that they don’t want to get their wisdom teeth removed then they should continue to get it monitored because some potential problems still exist. As people start to age, there is a greater risk for health problems which also includes potential problems which are related to wisdom teeth. Everyone should follow a proper oral care routine, floss around your wisdom teeth and visit the dentist regularly. Regular dentist visits would allow the dentist to evaluate the wisdom teeth and overall dental health.
Some people get their wisdom teeth at an early age, while some get it later. Everyone does have wisdom teeth and everyone does go through a painful growth period. Some people get it extracted while some have a desire to have 32 teeth. The surgery may not be very painless or pain-free, but it’s a onetime procedure to eliminate pain permanently. The pain that occurs from wisdom teeth is far higher than of surgery. It does not only cause pain but also damages other teeth. People also tend to worry about the aftermath of extraction, the complications derived from it. Complications only occur when patients fail to follow the given instructions and proper oral care routine. According to the reports by American Dental Association, 98% of the wisdom teeth extractions have been successful. Hence, it’s always preferred by dentists to get the wisdom teeth extracted rather than tolerating its pain.