Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars and the last four of your 32 teeth to erupt/come in. 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 and must be removed.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Although nowadays wisdom teeth cause issues, they were once useful for our distant relatives. Back when our ancestors ate rough food and had no dental care, teeth commonly wore down or fell out by early adulthood. Functioning as replacement teeth, wisdom teeth would grow in and take the place of the teeth that had fallen out. Since we no longer need replacement teeth, wisdom teeth are commonly removed to prevent or stop the progression of wisdom teeth symptoms.
Wisdom Teeth Symptoms
Wisdom teeth symptoms can range from painless to extremely painful depending on the situation and the person. If you are having wisdom teeth symptoms it is important to see a dentist and get your wisdom teeth evaluated as soon as possible. If left untreated, wisdom teeth can lead to pain, gum disease, tooth decay, infection, and overcrowding.
Common wisdom teeth symptoms include:
- Gum pain
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Swelling around the jaw
- Bad breath
- Jaw aches
- Unpleasant taste when eating
- Stiffness of the jaw
- Swollen lymph node in the neck.
Wisdom Teeth Age
Wisdom teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17-24. However, it is not uncommon to have wisdom teeth erupt earlier or later in life.
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Wisdom Teeth Extraction Procedure
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.
Do I Need To Have My Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
If you aren’t in pain and your wisdom teeth aren’t crowding your other teeth, causing tooth decay, or in a position that could cause gum disease then you may not wisdom teeth extraction.
Your dentist will most likely recommend wisdom teeth extraction if:
- You are in pain or experiencing the wisdom teeth symptoms mentioned above
- They grew in in the wrong position allowing food to be trapped which can lead to cavities and decay
- Their position makes it difficult to floss or properly clean the molars next to it
- They are partially erupted and susceptible to infections
- They don’t have room to properly grow in
- They have started to crowd or damage neighboring teeth
Wisdom Teeth Extraction Aftercare
Ample rest is needed after the surgery, in addition to being driven home by a friend or family due to the use of anesthesia.
Bleeding: 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.
Don’t Lie Flat: When resting at home do not lie flat, as it can prolong bleeding, but prop you head on a pillow when lying down.
Pain: You can either use and ice pack for the pain or your dentist prescribed pain medication.
Cleaning: It’s important to keep the mouth clean after wisdom teeth extraction. You can brush your teeth the night of your surgery but rinse gently. Starting the day after surgery, rinse 5-6 times a day with a warm salt water mix. A cleaning solution may also be provided by your dentist in order to clean the extraction site.
Eating: Only soft foods should be eaten for a few days following the surgery. Recommended foods are:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Ice Cream
- Thin Soups
- and other food you can eat without chewing.
Do Not Use A Straw: When drinking, make sure you do not use a straw. The sucking motion can loosen your sutures and slow the clotting process.
Do Not Smoke: The same goes for smoking. Smoking can loosen your sutures and slow the clotting process.
After your wisdom teeth extraction, 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.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction Arlington, VA
If you think you may be in need of wisdom teeth extraction schedule a consultation with one of our expert dentists and oral surgeons. They will take X-rays and do an oral examination in order to determine if you are a candidate for wisdom teeth extraction. Fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 703-822-5583 to schedule your consultation today.