Wisdom teeth that usually emerge during late teens to early twenties are the third and final set of molars. While for some people wisdom teeth emerge through gums and have enough room to grow in naturally, for other people they cause problems as they try to protrude through the gums. The impacted wisdom teeth come at an angle and not straight through the gum line, which cause pain and the tooth to come in unevenly or even only emerge partially.

This partial emerging can cause a flap of skin called operculum to form over tooth, which not only makes the tooth hard to clean, but also pieces of food may be caught under the skin making it easy for infection called pericoronitis to develop. Although it usually goes away on its own, it causes pain and swelling in the area.

Impacted teeth and wisdom teeth that can potentially cause problems, like infections, and need to be removed. Extractions can range from a single tooth, to removing all four wisdom teeth at once. Based on the preference of the doctor and/or the patient, a local anesthetic could be used to numb the areas where the teeth will be extracted. Others will prefer to go under a general anesthetic so that they will be sedated during the procedure.

In order to reveal the tooth, gum tissue around the wisdom tooth is cut open. The tooth is then gripped tightly and wiggled back and forth in order to loosen it and lift it out of the gums. In some cases, the tooth is so severely impacted that it cannot be simply lifted out but needs to be broken up into pieces first before it is removed. Sutures may be needed to close the area depending on the extraction site and the incision, for which soluble suture which dissolve on their own are the best option.

Ample rest is needed after the surgery, in addition to being driven home by a friend or family due to the use of anesthesia. The extraction site can bleed for a little while after surgery, for which a gauze will be applied at the completion of surgery. The gauze needs to be changed once it becomes soaked. Your dentist should be contacted if the bleeding continues for more than twenty four hours. When resting at home do not lie flat, as it can prolong bleeding, but prop you head on a pillow when lying down. You can either use and ice pack for the pain or your dentist prescribed pain medication. A cleaning solution may also be provided by your dentist in order to clean the extraction site.

Only soft foods should be eaten for a few days following the surgery. Recommended foods are:

  • Gelatin
  • Pudding
  • Yogurt
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Ice Cream
  • Thin Soups
  • …and other food you can eat without chewing.

When drinking, make sure you do not use a straw. The sucking motion can loosen your sutures and slow the clotting process. The same goes for smoking. If you have prolonged pain, bleeding, irritation, or feel that the extraction site is not healing properly, call your dentist for a follow up right away.