Many people view a routine visit to the dentist with some trepidation, so it’s understandable that they will be even more anxious if they have to get their wisdom teeth removed. In an effort to ease some of their anxiety, patients typically want to understand how wisdom teeth removal works, so that they know exactly what will happen before, during, and after the procedure.
Wisdom teeth or third molars are adult teeth located at the back of the mouth on both sides of the upper and lower jaw. They are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth, and usually emerge sometime between the ages 17-25, but there are people that never develop wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth that come in normally and are well-positioned and disease-free, don’t usually have to be removed. However, some people experience dental complications with their wisdom teeth that leads to a lot of pain and discomfort. In these cases, their dentist may recommend that they be removed.
Wisdom tooth extraction
Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure that is done to take out one or more wisdom teeth. Extraction is usually recommended if the wisdom tooth is damaging nearby teeth, or causing infection or periodontal disease.
Wisdom tooth extraction is an outpatient procedure that is done in the surgeon’s office. Patients are advised to wear loose, comfortable clothing to surgery, but earrings and contacts are not allowed.
How Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Work?
Wisdom tooth removal is generally done by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Patients are advised to discuss any concerns or questions they have about the extraction process with their oral surgeon before the operation.
Wisdom tooth extraction typically involves the use of one of three numbing options, local, sedation or general anesthesia. If local anesthesia is used patients will feel some pressure during the operation, but it should not be painful. Patients given general anesthesia are not conscious during surgery. Sedation anesthesia is given through an IV line in the arm, and patients are awake throughout, but feel no pain. The choice of anesthesia depends on the expected complexity of the operation.
The anesthesia is used to numb the gum and tissues in the area next to the wisdom tooth being extracted.
There are several surgical options that can be used to extract wisdom teeth. The surgeon will determine the most appropriate removal strategy, based on the severity of the situation.
Before the operation, the surgeon will x-ray the tooth or teeth, in order to fully understand the scope of what is required. For example, extracting impacted wisdom teeth is normally a more complicated procedure. Impacted wisdom teeth are generally not able to emerge properly due to lack of space, and may therefore come in only partially, or remain trapped in the gum tissue. This can cause damage to other teeth, or result in uncomfortable symptoms such as pain and swelling.
In most cases the surgeon gains access to the tooth via a small incision made in the gum near the tooth to be removed. If there is bone blocking the tooth root it will have to be removed first. Depending on the position of the tooth, it is sometimes necessary to take it out in pieces from the socket. After the tooth has been extracted, the incision is stitched and the empty socket is cleaned.
What to expect after surgery
Patients can expect some swelling, pain, and bleeding after the operation. This is all part of the healing process, but should resolve within 48 hours. Patients are given pain medication to help with any discomfort, and are advised to apply a cold compress to keep swelling to a minimum. Gauze is also placed over the incision site and should be kept there but changed as needed, until the bleeding stops.
After the extraction, patients will be given post-operative instructions to follow during the recovery process, to ensure that healing takes place as anticipated.
Do you think you may need to have wisdom teeth removed? Be sure to visit an oral surgeon for an evaluation.
If you are in the Bala Cynwyd, PA, area, contact Anthony Farole DMD of the Cosmetic Facial Surgery Center to learn more about wisdom teeth removal.
Call (610) 615-0502 today to set up a consultation.