The journey to wisdom is a path lined with unexpected twists, and sometimes, a few extra teeth. While for some individuals, wisdom teeth can erupt without difficulties, for others, these latecomers to the dental scene can cause a host of troubles, necessitating their removal. In this comprehensive guide, we’re set to uncover the ins and outs of impacted wisdom tooth removal, from understanding the reasons behind their misalignment to exploring the benefits of intervention. Let’s get started.
When Does a Wisdom Tooth Become Impacted?
Wisdom teeth become impacted when they do not have enough space to fully emerge or develop properly within the mouth. If there is not enough room for them to come in normally, they can become trapped within the jawbone or partially emerge. This often occurs due to the modern human jaw size being smaller than that of our ancestors, resulting in limited space for these additional molars.
Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to various dental health problems such as pain, swelling, infection and damage to the neighbouring teeth. Your dentist can monitor the progression of your wisdom teeth using dental X-rays. If problems arise or are likely to occur in the future, they may recommend the removal of impacted wisdom teeth.
The Procedure of Wisdom Tooth Removal
Wisdom tooth removal is a common dental procedure that is often recommended when these third molars pose a risk of causing discomfort, pain, infection, or other oral health complications. Here’s what a typical wisdom tooth removal procedure looks like:
Before the procedure, you will have a consultation with your dentist. This initial assessment involves a thorough examination of your oral health, including X-rays to determine the position and condition of your wisdom tooth. The dentist will discuss the need for extraction based on factors like impaction, potential complications, and your overall dental health.
Leading up to the procedure, your dentist will provide you with instructions on how to prepare. This might include dietary restrictions (avoiding food and drink for a specific period before the surgery), taking or adjusting medications, and arranging for transportation to and from the appointment if you’ll be receiving sedation.
On the day of the procedure, local anaesthesia is administered to numb the area around the wisdom tooth. This ensures you don’t feel any pain during the extraction process. If you’ve opted for sedation, this will also be administered to help you stay relaxed and comfortable.
Incision and extraction
For partially or fully impacted wisdom teeth, a small incision might be made in the gum tissue covering the tooth. This allows your dentist to access the tooth and its root. If needed, a small amount of bone might be removed to provide a clear view of the tooth. Using specialised instruments, the dentist will gently loosen the tooth from its socket and carefully extract it.
Stitching and dressing
Once the wisdom tooth is removed, the area might be cleaned to remove any debris or infection. Depending on the situation, dissolvable stitches might be placed to close the incision. In some cases, a small piece of gauze or a surgical dressing may be applied to control bleeding and promote healing.
After the procedure, you’ll receive detailed instructions on how to manage your recovery. This includes information on managing pain and swelling, how to clean the area while it heals, and what to eat and drink. Pain medication and antibiotics might be prescribed to prevent infection and manage discomfort.
Typically, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled within a week or two after the procedure. During this visit, the dentist will assess your healing progress, remove any non-dissolvable stitches if used, and address any concerns you might have about your recovery. This visit helps ensure that your healing is on track and that there are no complications.
At Great Alpine Dental Advanced Aesthetics & Implants, each step of our wisdom tooth removal procedure is meticulously carried out by our caring dental team to help minimise discomfort and ensure a smooth recovery.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Aftercare
Following your wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist will provide you with personalised instructions to ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery. These instructions are designed to promote proper healing and prevent complications as you heal. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind after the surgery:
- Gently brush your teeth, avoiding the extraction site for the first 24 hours. After that, resume brushing gently, taking care around the treated area.
- Begin rinsing your mouth gently with warm salt water 24 hours after the extraction. This helps keep the area clean and supports the healing process.
- Refrain from smoking and alcohol for at least 48 hours after the extraction. Smoking can hinder the healing process and increase the risk of complications.
- Opt for soft foods in the first few days to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the extraction site. Soup, yoghurt, mashed potatoes, and smoothies are some good options to consider.
- Avoid using straws, as the suction can dislodge the blood clot and lead to a painful condition called dry socket.
- Take prescribed pain medication as directed or use over-the-counter pain relievers as needed, following your dentist’s guidance.
- Applying a cold compress to the outside of your cheek in intervals during the first 24-48 hours can help reduce swelling.
- Take rest and steer clear of rigorous physical activities for a few days to prevent excessive bleeding and discomfort.
Benefits of Removing Wisdom Teeth
Removing problematic wisdom teeth not only addresses current oral health concerns but also serves as a proactive measure to mitigate potential future issues. Some of the benefits of wisdom tooth removal include:
Preservation of Oral Health
Impacted wisdom teeth, due to their position and limited space, can sometimes contribute to compromised gum health and an increased risk of tooth decay. They often create pockets or spaces between the gums and the teeth that are hard to clean through regular brushing and flossing. These hard-to-reach areas become breeding grounds for bacteria, leading to plaque buildup and potential infection. Removing impacted wisdom teeth eliminates these difficult-to-clean pockets, reducing the risk of bacterial growth, inflammation, tooth decay and gum disease.
Alleviation of Jaw Pain and Discomfort
Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to jaw pain and discomfort, particularly when they exert pressure on neighbouring teeth or jaw structures. This discomfort can also extend to cause headaches, impacting your overall well-being and daily life. By opting for wisdom tooth removal, you can effectively relieve the pressure and potential pain, enhancing your comfort and overall quality of life.
Reduced Risk of Cysts and Tumours
In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to the development of cysts or tumours around the impacted tooth. These growths can result in more complex surgical procedures and potential long-term complications. Removing impacted wisdom teeth eliminates this risk, safeguarding your health from the potential challenges associated with these growths.
Even if impacted wisdom teeth aren’t currently causing issues, their potential to cause problems in the future might warrant their removal as a preventative measure. Ultimately, the decision to remove wisdom teeth should be made in consultation with your dentist. Regular dental check-ups and X-rays play a vital role in monitoring the development of wisdom teeth and determining if removal is necessary to maintain your oral health and overall well-being.
Experience Gentle Wisdom Tooth Extraction with Great Alpine Dental
At Great Alpine Dental Advanced Aesthetics & Implants, our commitment to patient care extends beyond individual procedures – we are dedicated to offering our patients a comprehensive and lifelong strategy for achieving and maintaining optimal oral health and wellness. Whether you come to us for a regular wisdom tooth extraction or a more complex cosmetic procedure, our dental team takes time to listen to your concerns and provide honest advice and recommendations based on your oral health needs and smile goals.
If you have an impacted wisdom tooth that needs removal, or you have more questions regarding any aspect of your dental health, we’re here to provide you with the answers and care you need. From the moment you step into our practice, you become a valued member of our dental family and we go above and beyond to make you feel comfortable and at ease during your visit. Schedule a consultation today.