Wisdom teeth are the most commonly extracted tooth, and having your wisdom tooth or teeth removed can often be a frightening and stressful prospect for many people. In this article, we’ll discuss the whole procedure and help you get more informed about this potentially scary but ultimately very beneficial process.
Why would your wisdom teeth need to be removed? That’s a good question. They are an important part of your body, so removing them is usually done to prevent problems from occurring which could cause you a great deal of pain or expense later on in life. Removal can also remove the potential causes of infection or toothaches, in addition to many other problems with the mouth, gums and teeth that can arise from having poorly grown-in or decaying wisdom teeth.
Popular causes for wisdom tooth extraction include a tooth that is too badly damaged to be repaired, or the eruption of a wisdom tooth in a location that causes problems for the gums or for the other teeth in the jaw. Another leading cause of wisdom tooth removal is Pericoronitis.
Pericoronitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue which surrounds a wisdom tooth that is only partly erupted. Almost all cases of Pericoronitis occur in young adults who have wisdom teeth that have only recently grown in. This is because the wisdom teeth have caused irritation and swelling to the gums as they have grown in, resulting in pain and swelling to the gums. This issue typically occurs on the lower jaw rather than on the top. Sometimes the pain is the result of the new wisdom teeth not lining up with the ones opposite them on the top of the mouth, which causes the teeth to press into the gums instead of meeting another tooth and stopping. When this happens, it can sometimes result in Pericoronitis which will lead to the wisdom teeth needing to be extracted to prevent additional pain or swelling from occurring.
Other causes of wisdom tooth extraction include things like Pulpitis, Caries, and root infections. Caries are also known as tooth decay, and they are a common issue that frequently occurs with wisdom teeth. This is because the wisdom teeth are often difficult to reach when brushing and flossing, and as a result are often poorly cleaned. This can lead to the growth of decay causing bacteria in the area. Without prompt and proper treatment, caries can develop further into Pulpitis, which inflames the dental pulp inside the tooth, leading to a toothache.
Eventually, left untreated, this tooth decay can lead to root infection, which is quite painful and will require either a tooth extraction or a root canal to be performed by a qualified dental professional.
In some cases, a pulp or root infection can be successfully treated without the need for extracting the tooth. This treatment is known as a root canal. When evaluating your situation, your dentist will decide whether your tooth can be treated with a root canal or if it requires a full extraction. If an extraction is recommended, your dentist may recommend removing the wisdom teeth on both sides to prevent future issues from occurring.
Steps of the wisdom (or other) tooth extraction process:
- First, a local anesthetic is applied to the extraction site by injection. In certain cases, a relaxing medication or laughing gas may be administered. If you have severe dental phobia, you may be given general anesthesia or even sedated for the duration of the procedure.
- Second, gum area attached to the tooth is separated or removed as necessary, in order to free the tooth for a safe and clean removal.
- Third, the tooth is moved from side to side and back and forth in order to cause the fibers connecting the jawbone to the tooth to separate, which will allow the tooth to be removed.
- Fourth, with the area completely free of fibers and gum tissue that would prevent the tooth from being safely removed, the tooth is then removed using forceps or a similar tool.
- Finally, at the conclusion of the procedure, the area is carefully cleaned, any sharp bone edges are smoothed out, and if required stitches are placed at the extraction site to assist in a healthy healing process.
Post-extraction steps you can take to aid in healing and reduce pain and swelling:
• Try not to eat, drink, or smoke for a minimum of about 2 hours after the extraction is performed. Doing any of these things could aggravate the area and cause unnecessary pain.
• You can use ice packs applied to the area (on your jaw, outside the mouth) to sooth the pain and swelling if you feel it is necessary. The cold will help the swelling to go down and should feel soothing as well.
• If possible, avoid any strenuous activity for two or three days after the procedure is performed.
• Be careful when brushing your teeth after the procedure. Avoid brushing around the extraction site for at least a few days to avoid causing any unnecessary disturbance to the area during the initial part of the healing process.
• The extraction socket may bleed for a few days. If the bleeding is heavy and does not stop, return to your dentist so they can have a look at it and see what the problem is, and provide a treatment solution.
• Most people who are healthy don’t need antibiotics after a normal tooth extraction, as their own immune system is strong enough to do the job of preventing the area from becoming infected and ensuring that it heals properly.
• Enjoy eating cool or cold beverages and foods that don’t need to be chewed, such as smoothies, yogurt, ice cream, milk shakes, and popsicles, as chewing may cause unnecessary pain to the extraction site, whereas these foods should not.
• If the pain is bad, feel free to take pain killers, but be careful to avoid Aspirin and other painkillers that contain Acetylsalicylic acid, as this can cause the area to bleed for a longer period of time.
So there you have it – an overview of the facts you need to know about having a wisdom tooth extraction done. We certainly hope that you won’t need to have this procedure performed, but it is ultimately necessary for many of us. If your dentist recommends a wisdom tooth extraction, they most likely have determined that this treatment will save you from a lot of pain and problems down the road, so it is best to have the extraction done if recommended by your dentist. Have you had a tooth extraction, or do you need one? Are there any helpful facts about this procedure that we missed? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments!