The wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to come in, and are located in the back of the mouth. For many patients, wisdom teeth are problematic. They may be unable to erupt due to too little space in the mouth, or they may even become impacted, which can cause severe pain and will eventually lead to more serious dental issues.
If you are over the age of 23, chances are you have your wisdom teeth already. The easiest way to check and see if yours have come in is to count the molars at the back of your mouth. If you have three or four permanent molars, your wisdom teeth have erupted. If they haven’t, it is important that you schedule an appointment immediately. Your teeth may have become impacted, or they may have developed at an angle that does not allow them to erupt properly.
Not every wisdom tooth will need to be extracted. If your teeth have erupted properly, and pose no health threat to the other teeth in you mouth, your wisdom teeth can be left in place. Unfortunately, this is fairly uncommon. The wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean, leaving them and the teeth around them more prone to the effects of tooth decay, infections, and inflammation.
Often, a wisdom tooth will develop improperly, which can result in it erupting at an odd angle. This also makes brushing difficult. In some cases, the tooth may erupt, but result in an overcrowding in your mouth, causing your teeth to try to shift closer together. In each of these cases, the wisdom teeth should be extracted in order to prevent future serious dental issues.
If your wisdom teeth do need to be extracted, you will be given the option of choosing between local anesthesia or general anesthesia. Please keep in mind that if you choose general anesthesia, you will need to arrange for transportation to and from your appointment. Once your medication has been given, your tooth will be first loosened, and then elevated slightly before being pulled. If your tooth hasn’t erupted, or has become impacted, you may need to undergo a surgical procedure to remove the tooth.
A wisdom tooth extraction is a very common and completely safe procedure. For most patients, the process is simple and free from any complications. Unfortunately, other patients do have minor issues during the healing process following their wisdom tooth extraction. The most common of these is a condition known as dry socket. This is the term for the pain that occurs when the blood clot at the extraction site has been dislodged somehow. The underlying bone then becomes inflamed, and can radiate pain throughout the jaw. If you feel that you have unusually severe pain, or if you continue to bleed at the extraction site for more than 24 hours, return to our office for treatment.