Understanding Wisdom Teeth
Around the end of your teen years, it is likely that wisdom teeth began erupting in the back of your mouth. Many people have insufficient space for this final set of molars and the teeth never fully develop or remain partially under the gums. Even if this is causes you no discomfort, there are several reasons why your dentist may decide it is best to extract the teeth.
Why Extract Wisdom Teeth?
When wisdom teeth remain under the gums, it is difficult to brush properly and oral hygiene suffers. Bacteria building up below the surface often leads to pericoronitis, an infection with symptoms including swelling of the gums, pain when eating, bad breath, and even cysts.
Other reasons to remove wisdom teeth include:
- Damage to other teeth or jaw due to wisdom teeth erupting at an angle
- Overcrowding, which may reverse the effects of previous treatments
- Sinus problems
How Do We Extract Wisdom Teeth?
Most patients receive local anaesthesia for the extraction process, but general anaesthesia may be an option if work is particularly complex, such as if your dentist is extracting all your wisdom teeth at the same time. In the case of the latter, you will be asleep throughout the surgery.
The process involves first opening the gum tissue and removing any bone covering the tooth. Your dentist will then separate the tissue holding the tooth to the bone to extract the tooth itself. It may be necessary to cut the tooth into segments for easier removal.
After the tooth extraction, you may receive stitches that either dissolve or require removal a few days later. Your dentist will apply gauze to the extraction area to control bleeding.
As wisdom tooth extraction involves surgery, it is important you adhere to your dentist’s aftercare instructions. Recovery is typically fast and bleeding should cease within 24 hours, during which time you will need to change the gauze pad frequently. To decrease bleeding, keep your head raised, avoid strenuous activity, and drink without a straw. If you are still bleeding after a full day, call your dentist.
Your dentist will likely prescribe an analgesic for you to take for a few days and may suggest you use an ice pack on your cheek for the first day, followed by a warm washcloth for the following two or three days. Another way to reduce pain and swelling is to rinse your mouth with warm saline water several times throughout the first day.
You will need to stick to liquid foods initially, progressing to solids gradually. You should also refrain from smoking for at least 24 hours to keep bacteria and contaminants away from the site of extraction. You will be able to clean your teeth, but be careful to avoid contact with the surgery area both with your brush and tongue.
Book an appointment at our clinic if you have any concerns about your wisdom teeth. If you feel anxious about the procedure, remember to ask us about nitrous sedation.