Sometime during adolescence, most individuals develop a third set of molars at the back of their mouth known as the wisdom teeth. Every year, countless people get these teeth extracted. In fact, wisdom teeth extractions have become sort of a rite of passage for many teenagers and young adults.
However, you may wonder why their removal is often necessary and what you can expect during the procedure. At San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, we are happy to answer such questions. If you decide to get your wisdom teeth removed, we will perform the treatment with precision and compassion.
Examining Your Wisdom Teeth
Your general dentist should keep a close eye on your wisdom teeth. If they fully erupt into the dental arch, it may not be necessary to remove them. Most people do not have enough space in their mouths to accommodate their wisdom teeth, though.
As a result, the teeth become “impacted”; that is, stuck either partially or fully beneath the gum line. Impacted wisdom teeth create a higher risk of complications, such as cysts and infections.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth sometimes lead to a condition known as pericoronitis, a localized infection of the gum tissue that can be quite painful. In some cases, the infection can spread and cause serious damage to the surrounding tissue. It may even become life-threatening. Wisdom teeth extractions, along with antibiotic treatment, can address pericoronitis before it worsens, and help you regain your oral and overall health.
Another issue with impacted wisdom teeth is that they can damage adjacent teeth. They might even push against them to the point where their root surface begins to be resorbed. It is also easy for food particles and bacteria to get trapped between the wisdom teeth and the teeth next to them, leading to a greatly increased risk of dental decay.
Crowded Wisdom Teeth
Some studies indicate that wisdom teeth can lead to crowding of the lower front teeth, especially after orthodontic treatment. Other studies, however, suggest the wisdom teeth have little to no effect on the lower front teeth. If our team believes that your wisdom teeth are posing a threat to any of your other teeth in any way, we will recommend extraction.
Keep in mind that if your wisdom teeth are not currently causing problems for you, they may never do so. Extraction as a preventive measure is an individual decision, and you should weigh its risks and benefits carefully before you commit to removal.
The Extraction Procedure
You should have an initial wisdom tooth consultation during your teen years; it is never too late to schedule an appointment, however, especially if you are experiencing complications. During your consultation, a thorough examination is performed, which includes images to see the exact placement of the teeth. If it is decided you need your wisdom teeth removed, a comprehensive treatment plan is created.
Contrary to popular belief, not all wisdom tooth extractions in San Antonio require surgery. However, there are times surgery is needed, such as when the teeth are impacted. Depending on the reason for the extraction, your treatment process will vary.
If you have extensive overcrowding or impacted wisdom teeth, surgical extraction is best. Anesthesia is used to allow the gum tissue to be opened and expose the tooth. The gum and alveolar bone tissue are removed from the tooth.
In some cases, the tooth may need to be removed in pieces. After your oral surgeon removes the tooth, gauze is applied to let a blood clot form. You will need to follow strict after-care instructions to prevent complications such as infection and dry socket.
Possible Complications of Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Complications after wisdom teeth extractions are rare. However, they are always a possibility. For example, infection may linger after the procedure. Another possible complication is dry socket, wherein the extraction site does not have a proper blood clot to protect it.
Dry socket is painful, but it is highly treatable. Other possible risks of wisdom teeth extraction include damage to the adjacent teeth, increased dental sensitivity, jaw pain, and sinus complications.
After Wisdom Teeth Extractions
You can expect your mouth to be sore after your surgery. You may also experience some bleeding. Sticking to a soft diet and following your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions will make your recovery as comfortable as possible. Most patients are able to resume their normal routine within 5 to 10 days after their procedure.
Wisdom Teeth Extractions FAQs
Is wisdom tooth removal painful? How long does the procedure take? What is the recovery period like? Visit our wisdom teeth extractions FAQ page to learn the answers to these and other questions that relate to this procedure.
If you don’t find answers to the questions that concern you the most, please contact us to schedule a consultation. We’ll be happy to help you understand the ins and outs of the procedure so you can make an informed decision about your treatment.