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Wisdom Teeth

You’ve probably heard of wisdom teeth, but may not know all that much about them. What are they? Does everyone get them? Does everyone need to have them removed? Will they hurt? Read onto get a little wiser about wisdom teeth removal. 

What are wisdom teeth?

Everyone has three molars on each side of the jaw. The last molar (or third molar) located at the very back of your mouth, are your wisdom teeth. While most of your adult teeth develop before adolescence, your wisdom teeth develop significantly later – when you’re older and, thus, “wiser.” While most adults have four wisdom teeth (two on each side), it’s possible to have more, fewer, or none at all. 

What age do most people get their wisdom teeth?

This can vary significantly. On average, people tend to develop them between the ages of 17 and 25, though it’s not unheard of for wisdom teeth to grow in pre-adolescence or into ones 30s and beyond. There’s also the possibility that you may not develop wisdom teeth at all.

How do I know if my wisdom teeth are coming in?

Often, your dentist will let you knowing during a check-up, but if you don’t visit your dentist as regularly as you should, there are often other symptoms to look out for. Pain and tenderness in the jaw or swelling around the gums can be a sign. You may even be able to feel or see the wisdom teeth poking through the gums.  

Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

It’s actually a misconception that all wisdom teeth need to be removed. If they grow in healthy, positioned correctly and without any other complications, then there’s no reason to have your wisdom teeth removed.

Today, it’s a rare occurrence that wisdom teeth will grow, in the right position or without complications. For everyone else, impacted wisdom teeth can cause crowding, cavities, gum infection, cysts, etcetera -- requiring removal to ensure no damage is done. 

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

If your wisdom teeth are impacted or breaking through the gums, this means there is not enough room in your mouth for the wisdom tooth to emerge and develop naturally. This can cause crowding, cavities, gum infection, cysts and more that can damage to your teeth or surrounding structure and can cause considerable pain.

Will I be sedated or put under anesthesia for the procedure?

A patient undergoing wisdom tooth extraction will be provided with a local anesthetic in the infected area. Based on patient needs and doctor recommendations, patients may need sedation. Sedation will likely require thorough review of your health history to avoid risk of complications. 

Will this require stitches? How will those be removed?

It may, though it’s not always necessary. If you do require stitches, they will likely dissolve on their own after a few weeks. On the rare occasions this does not happen, a dental visit will be required to have them removed.

What can happen if my wisdom teeth are not removed?

Assuming your wisdom teeth are impacted, as most tend to be, can cause a variety of dental problems:  crowding, cavities, gum infection, cysts, etcetera.

Does getting wisdom teeth removed hurt? What kind of recovery period should I expect?

There are a variety of anesthetic options available when removing wisdom teeth that should significantly minimize any pain felt during the procedure itself. 

Immediately following the procedure, you’ll want to pay close attention to the directions given to you by your doctor in order to manage your pain – this will likely include icing your jaw as well as pain medication depending on your medical history. 

The most common cause of pain following the procedure is dry sockets, which may occur three-to-four days after wisdom teeth are removed. On rare occasions, there is some risk of nerve damage as well.

Patient recovery varies, depending on each patient, how many wisdom teeth were removed and the degree of impaction. For some, they may feel back to normal very quickly, while for others it may take longer. 

What are dry sockets?

Dry sockets occur when the blood clot that forms in the tooth socket is dislodged, exposing the area to air, fluids and food.. Symptoms of dry sockets include an unpleasant taste in your mouth and bad breath, as well as severe pain that radiates along your jaw.

If you believe you have dry sockets, contact your dentist as soon as possible. If left untreated, they can lead to a variety of complications.

When can I resume normal activities after getting my wisdom teeth removed (eating, teeth brushing, working, exercising, smoking, etc.)?

Immediately following your surgery, it’s recommended that you strictly follow your dentist’s advice and care instructions. Within 24 hours you should be able to resume normal oral activities such as brushing your teeth or gargling. If you smoke, it’s recommended that you wait even longer, as inhaling smoke may cause the blood clot in your socket to burst, potentially causing dry sockets.

Returning to work may depend a lot on the level of physical exertion required by your occupation, and the same applies to exercise, which can also aggravate the blood clot. Simpler, more sedentary work activities can otherwise be resumed as soon as you feel up to it, although it’s recommended that you avoid traveling for a few days.  

How Aspen Dental Can Help

If you think it may be time to look into getting your wisdom teeth removed, work with your local Aspen Dental office on the best oral surgery solution for you. 

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