For most people, the arrival of wisdom teeth brings lots of trouble, discomfort, and pain. For this reason, many opt to have them removed. What are wisdom teeth? They are the third set of molars that develop around the age of 17-25.
The removal of these teeth is a relatively standard procedure, performed on close to 5 million patients per year. After the dentist has conducted a thorough diagnosis using x-rays or a CT scan, the patient may have to extract the molar tooth.
Below is a break down on reason why such extraction may be recommended.
i. The patient’s jaw may be too small to accommodate all the teeth, which could result in excessive crowding. This could, in turn, create an opening for the wisdom teeth to become impacted (that is the teeth will find it difficult to grow out of the gums)
ii. The tooth may be erupting (coming in) in a crooked orientation. This may damage other teeth or anatomical structures in the jaw, and cause bite problems
iii. Where the wisdom tooth fails to fully erupt (emerge from the gums), increasing the chance for bacterial infection
iv. The development of a cyst (a closed fluid-filled sac) around the unerupted wisdom tooth, causing disease and harm to the nerve tissue or bone at the adjacent position
In short, the extraction of the wisdom tooth is recommended only when the development of the affected teeth will cause problems in the future. It proves to be an effective treatment in eliminating the threat an errant wisdom tooth may pose.
Like any medical procedure, patients must seek the opinions of their doctors. In order to determine whether this is the right procedure for you, please carefully assess the benefits, as well as any and all possible complications. Doctors are more than willing to discuss such procedure in detail with their patients.
The Extraction Procedure
The extraction process for the wisdom tooth is usually an in-office procedure which may be performed by a dentist or an oral surgeon. The treatment may be done with only a local anesthetic (numbing shot) to keep the patient from experiencing any pain. However, where multiple teeth are being extracted during a session, then, anesthetic or conscious sedation may be administered.
Upon the proper anesthetizing of the patient, the gum tissue at the extraction site may need to be opened where the tooth is impacted and gently removed. When the extraction is complete, the site sutured (stitched) to aid a speedy and clean healing.
After the procedure, the patient is usually allowed to rest in the facility after the surgery. The quiet time depends on the type of anesthesia that was used for the operation. Patients should arrange an alternative means of transport, rather than driving by themselves.
After the Procedure
Generally, the recovery period after a wisdom tooth extraction is just a couple of days. During this time, the patient needs enough rest to speed up the healing process while using the recommended drugs.
Please note that some bleeding at the extraction site is a regular occurrence and can be regulated by gently biting on gauze pads, changing them when due, and resting with the head inclined rather than flat.
Other care measures that may be taken include, holding an ice pack on the outside of the cheek for a few minutes, as this may help to reduce swelling on the first day.
On the second day, the patient may apply the warm moist heat of a washcloth placed on the cheek to make him/her more comfortable.
He/she is to rinse the mouth with warm salt water a few times a day to help relieve discomfort.
Patients are advised to stick to eating soft foods for a few days after the extraction, and to use caution when brushing or putting anything in the mouth until the healing is complete. They are also asked follow the postoperative instructions they are given, as each situation differs from one case to the other.