What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom tooth is another name for any one of four third molars found in the permanent dentition (adult teeth). These teeth are the last or most posterior teeth in the dental arch. Although most people have wisdom teeth, it is possible for some or all of the third molars to never develop. It is also possible for a person to have more than four wisdom teeth. In many individuals, the wisdom teeth aren’t visible because they have become impacted (not normally erupted through the gums) under the gingival tissue.
Does Everyone have Wisdom Teeth?
You know if you have wisdom teeth by examining your mouth and finding three permanent molars in each dental quadrant. However, if the tooth is impacted under the tissue, presence of the tooth needs to be verified by a dental x-ray/radiograph. A panoramic radiograph is usually the preferred X-ray to help assess the angle of eruption and state of development of the tooth. Most wisdom teeth can be visualized erupting through the gumline in early adulthood, between the ages of 16 to 23. Sometimes, a person will feel the effects of the wisdom teeth before they are able to visualize them in their mouth. Erupting wisdom teeth will usually produce a feeling of pressure or dull throbbing in the back of the jaws. Your general dentist will often be able to inform you of the condition of these erupting teeth.
Symptoms of wisdom teeth infection
Signs of gum infection caused by wisdom teeth include:
- red, inflamed gum near the wisdom tooth
- pus coming from the gum
- swollen and sore lymph nodes underneath the jaw
- difficulty opening the mouth and swallowing
- bad breath
Are all wisdom teeth pulled?
Not all wisdom teeth need to be extracted. When a wisdom tooth erupts cleanly through the tissue without compromising the adjacent tooth, the wisdom tooth can be retained in the mouth with little concern as long as the person is able to brush, floss, and clean it thoroughly. The condition of the wisdom teeth changes a lot between the ages of 16 and 23; it is imperative that wisdom teeth are examined regularly by a dental professional to determine the proper diagnosis and course of action in this age group.
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.
What to Expect When You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled
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? Our Beaufort, SC 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.
Wisdom Teeth Surgery Recovery Tips
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.
Let us advise you on your Wisdom teeth
If you think your Wisdom teeth are coming in, let us take a look. One of our Lady’s Island dentists will properly diagnosis your Wisdom teeth, and recommend the the best course of action. At Lowcountry Family Dentistry we do not extract Wisdom teeth, but we can refer you to an reputable oral surgeon that does. To request an appointment, call our office at 843-986-0177 and or use our online form.