Many people in their late teens and early twenties have their wisdom teeth removed, but not everyone needs to do so. While dental professionals often have differing opinions about wisdom teeth extraction, if you think you need your wisdom teeth pulled, your best bet is to consult with a professional.
Many people have no problems when their wisdom teeth erupt and don’t need to have their wisdom teeth pulled. Even so, many dental professionals will recommend having your wisdom teeth pulled if you experience the following scenarios:
- Not enough room for wisdom teeth: Most of us have room for about 28 teeth, which is the number of teeth you have before your wisdom teeth erupt. When you add your four wisdom teeth, you have 32 teeth all trying to fit into the confined amount of space available in your jaw. When the jaw isn’t large enough, the wisdom teeth can become impacted, which means they are either unable to fully erupt or they become misaligned. In this case, having your wisdom teeth pulled will ensure all your teeth have ample room.
- Experiencing wisdom tooth gum pain: This pain can be a sign of infection that can occur from partially erupted wisdom teeth. When food and bacteria get trapped in these areas, it can lead to a very painful infection known as pericoronitis. Having your wisdom teeth pulled in this case will prevent further infection.
- Wisdom teeth coming in crooked: If your wisdom teeth come in fully, but come in sideways, they can cause your teeth to shift and move over time. There is also a chance that poorly aligned wisdom teeth can damage the nearby teeth. Once you have your wisdom teeth pulled, your nearby teeth will be protected from damage.
- Cyst forms on wisdom teeth: This occurs when the sac next to the tooth becomes filled with fluid. When this occurs, it can destroy the surrounding structures such as bone or tooth roots. In rare cases, an untreated cyst can lead to a tumor that may require a more serious surgical procedure.
While wisdom teeth surgery may not sound like much fun, removing wisdom teeth is a very routine procedure that can help ensure the long-term health of your mouth and teeth. Removing wisdom teeth often is the best option for avoiding painful complications that occur when your wisdom teeth don’t come in properly, or become impacted. If your dental professional recently recommended wisdom teeth surgery, you may be concerned or worried about the procedure. Since millions of Americans fear dental procedures, this is completely normal. While wisdom tooth surgery may sound scary, having your wisdom teeth pulled can often be a better experience than not doing so when you consider the pain associated with wisdom teeth problems. The best way to help prevent this anxiety is to learn all you can about wisdom teeth surgery before your procedure.
If you do make the decision to have your wisdom teeth pulled, you’ll want to know what to expect during your procedure. Talk with your dental professional or oral surgeon to be sure you understand the procedure and after-surgery care recommendations. Here are some questions you may want to ask before the big day:
- How many teeth will be removed? Some professionals will take out all four teeth, or just a few at a time.
- What type of anesthesia will be used? Typically, you will undergo either local or general anesthesia to avoid discomfort during the procedure. If you undergo general anesthesia, you will need to have someone accompany you since you will be groggy and unable to drive yourself home.
- How long will the procedure take? This will likely depend on the number of wisdom teeth pulled and the condition of your teeth, but can range from an hour to several hours.
- Are there any pre-surgical instructions? Your dental professional may tell you to avoid certain medications such as blood thinners or aspirin prior to the procedure.
This list is certainly not comprehensive, so it’s important to talk at length with your dental professional prior to the procedure. Having this important discussion can help alleviate any anxiety you may have and can also help avoid potential complications.
While wisdom teeth surgery may sound overwhelming, having all the information you can gather beforehand will ensure you are well-prepared. Finally, be sure to review your post-surgical instructions with your surgeon before wisdom teeth surgery, since you are likely to be groggy after the procedure.
Follow these instructions carefully to get your mouth back to good health quickly:
- Prevent Wisdom Teeth Pain: If you are scared of the pain you may experience during your wisdom teeth surgery, don’t be worried. Your dental professional will ensure you are comfortable during the procedure by administering local anesthesia, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Be sure to discuss which type of treatment may be best for you with your oral surgeon prior to the procedure. This will also impact your ability to drive after the procedure. You’ll need to have someone pick you up if you will be fully sedated or under general anesthesia.
- Know Your Numbers: How long will it take, how many teeth will be removed, and how much will it cost? Knowing this information beforehand can help you prepare. Your procedure will vary in length and complexity depending on how many teeth you need to have removed during your wisdom teeth surgery. Cost will be dependent on your insurance coverage or the oral surgeon’s financial policies. Be sure to know this information and understand what to expect before you get started.
After your wisdom tooth removal, keep these tips in mind to manage some common discomforts:
- Bleeding: If you experience bleeding after wisdom tooth removal, apply a moist gauze pad to the area and bite down to keep pressure on it for about 45 minutes. If bleeding persists, contact your dental professional.
- Swelling: To relieve swelling after tooth removal, place an ice pack on the outside of your cheek near the affected area. Hold the ice in place for 10 minutes, followed by 20 minutes with no ice. Repeat this cycle as often as you want during the first 24 hours after wisdom tooth removal.
How Many People Get Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
While you may have heard horror stories about wisdom teeth surgery, millions of people have the procedure done each year with no complications. In fact, approximately 85 percent of people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted during their lifetime. You may wonder why so many people need to have their wisdom teeth removed and what impact wisdom teeth surgery may have on your ability to chew. The truth is that we don’t really need our wisdom teeth, otherwise known as our third molars.
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