Wisdom Teeth Extractions
WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?
Wisdom teeth are the last set of permanent adult teeth to come in. They commonly consist of four or more third set of molars that grow on the top and bottom of the posterior part of the mouth. These teeth usually come in or start showing symptoms of their presence between ages 17-25, in what some call “the age of wisdom”, thus the name.
THE PROBLEMS WITH WISDOM TEETH
Wisdom teeth most often cause serious problems for the rest of your mouth. Because our jaws are too small and teeth are too big, the addition of an extra set of molars tends to overcrowd our mouths, causing pain and discomfort. More often than not, wisdom teeth don’t fully grow in and get trapped in the gums and jawbone causing the tooth to become “impacted”. Impacted teeth are not only painful, but their partial growth makes them a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause infection, inflammation, and gum disease. If bacteria become trapped under the gums surrounding the impacted tooth, Pericoronitis infection can occur, causing swelling of the gums and cheeks and making it exceedingly painful to chew food. Other times, wisdom teeth grow in sideways, putting pressure on your other teeth and moving them in an agonizing direction or sometimes they grow too close to the jaw nerve causing other severe problems.
WHAT IS WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTION?
To avoid the severe problems and damage associated with wisdom teeth, such; pain, inflammation, jaw nerve damage, and deformation of the mouth and teeth structure, wisdom teeth are extracted by an endodontic specialist. There are several different extraction methods, depending on how your wisdom teeth have grown in, where they’ve grown in, and if they have emerged from under the gums at all yet. Usually, an incision is made at the site of the tooth, it is pulled out, and the spot where the tooth was is stitched up. Often times, an oral surgeon may suggest extracting these problematic molars before they have emerged above the surface and can cause any further damage to your mouth and jaw.
At your pre-surgery appointment, you will have an opportunity to talk with your doctor about any medications you may already be on, any health problems you have, what pain management option you choose, and any questions concerning your surgery.
If you choose a general anesthetic or IV sedation, it is extremely important that you do the following before surgery:
- Do not eat or drink anything (including water) for 8 hours before the surgery.
- Do not smoke for at least 12 hours before the appointment.
- Avoid alcohol for 24 hours before, since alcohol can make it harder to numb the surgical site.
- Brush you teeth before the surgery to reduce your chance of bacterial infection.
- Remove contact lenses, jewelry, and facial piercings.
- Do not wear lipstick or excessive makeup.
- Wear comfortable shoes and loose fitting clothing that the sleeves can be rolled up on so that we can easily monitor your blood pressure and insert the IV.
- Bring a responsible adult to stay with you during the procedure and drive you home afterwards since you will be groggy and unable to operate a vehicle for 24 hours following your surgery.
TALK TO YOUR SPECIALIST TO DECIDE WHICH TYPE OF ANESTHESIA IS RIGHT FOR YOU
WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTION PROCEDURE
Post-operative care for wisdom teeth extractions is extremely important for the healing process and assurance that the surgical site does not become infected and you do not get “dry sockets” from the dislodging of the blood clots that are protecting the sockets. Dry sockets can occur from smoking, excessive mouth rinsing, and even sucking through a straw.
Immediately following the surgery:
- Remove the gauze pads in your mouth after a half hour.
- Do not eat for 2 hours following your surgery, then start out with broths, soups, and juices.
- Eat only soft foods for the first couple of days.
- Do not drink through a straw for the first several days.
- Do not smoke for 12 hours after surgery.
- Do not drive a vehicle for 24 hours.
- Avoid vigorously rinsing your mouth out. Only use a saltwater rinse starting the day after your surgery.
- Place ice packs on the sides of your mouth for 10-15 minutes at a time to reduce swelling.
- For pain management, take the medication prescribed to you as recommended by your doctor.