Have you ever worn a pair of shoes that were too snug? Perhaps you can tolerate them for a bit, but after a while your feet swell and just plain hurt. This is the general idea as to why wisdom teeth can be problematic. Your mouth is made to accommodate 28 teeth; so when those extra third molars (wisdom teeth) arrive, bacteria can get into the area around them to cause infection that leads to swelling, sometimes an unpleasant odor and pain that may affect the jawbones or neck.
Wisdom teeth usually erupt in one’s late teens or mid twenties; this is considered the age of wisdom. They generally appear as the last teeth behind the upper and lower second molars. Wisdom teeth are more problematic than anything else.
As with any dental procedure, Dr. Cherry will want to initially conduct a thorough examination of the wisdom and surrounding teeth. Panoramic or digital X-rays will be taken in order for Dr. Cherry to evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and determine whether a current problem exists, as well as the likelihood of any potential future problems. The X-rays can also expose additional risk factors, such as deterioration or decay of nearby teeth. Early evaluation and treatment (typically in the mid-teen years) is recommended, in order to identify potential problems and to improve the results for patients requiring extraction of wisdom teeth. Only after a thorough examination will Dr. Cherry be able to provide you with the best options for your particular case.
Reasons to Remove Wisdom Teeth
While not all wisdom teeth require removal, wisdom teeth are often extracted because of an active problem such as pain, swelling, decay or infection – or as a preventative measure to avoid serious problems in the future. If impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is present and left untreated, a number of potentially harmful outcomes can occur, including:
Before removing a wisdom tooth, Dr. Cherry gives you a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. A general anesthetic may be used, especially if several or all of your wisdom teeth are being removed at the same time. A general anesthetic prevents pain in the whole body and will cause you to sleep through the procedure. Dr. Cherry recommends that you don’t eat or drink after midnight on the night before surgery, so you are prepared for the anesthetic.
To remove a wisdom tooth, Dr. Cherry opens up the gum tissue over the tooth and takes out any bone that is covering the tooth. He separates the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone, and then removes the tooth. Sometimes Dr. Cherry cuts the tooth into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove.
After the tooth is removed, you may need stitches. Some stitches dissolve over time, and some have to be removed after a few days. Dr. Cherry will tell you whether your stitches will need to be removed. A folded cotton gauze pad placed over the wound helps stop the bleeding.
In most cases, the recovery period lasts only a few days. Take painkillers as prescribed by Dr. Cherry.
The following tips will help speed your recovery:
At a postoperative appointment, Dr. Cherry will remove the stitches, if needed.
Risks & Side Effects
After a wisdom tooth is removed, you may experience:
Dental surgery may cause bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream and cause infections in other parts of the body. People who have difficulty fighting off infections may need to take antibiotics before and after dental surgery. Such people include those who have artificial heart valves or were born with heart defects.