Wisdom teeth are one of life's great mysteries. They don't seem to do anything, because they are eminently removable, and when they're out, you don't feel any ill effects in terms of your long term oral health. If your dentist has informed you that your wisdom teeth need to come out, here are the answers to some of the most common questions you might have about the procedure.
- What Does an 'Impacted' Wisdom Tooth Mean? - An impacted wisdom tooth is one that has grown in such a way that it can't fully erupt from your gum. Typically, an impacted wisdom tooth has grown sideways, which means that it will push up against the adjacent tooth, which can cause pain, discomfort and problems with your bite. An impacted wisdom tooth is more prone to bacterial infection and gum problems, because the impacted part of the tooth lies below the gum line and inside the bone, making it harder to clean.
- Should I Only Remove the Wisdom Tooth That's Causing Pain? - The answer really depends on what your dentist recommends, your pain tolerance and your budget. In many instances, your dentist may advise you to remove all four wisdom teeth so that you prevent any future problems, and you don't have to undergo the extraction process again. But removing all four wisdom teeth at once can increase your recovery time, as you will experience slight to moderate swelling, bleeding and residual pain. In addition, your dental insurance may only pay for the extraction of one or two teeth, which means you would have to foot the remainder of the bill yourself. Discuss your options with your dentist to see what best fits your budget, pain tolerance and work schedule, as removing all four wisdom teeth may require days off work for recovery.
- How Is the Tooth Removed? - The process of extraction is quite simple. Your dentist will numb the area around the wisdom tooth, and test out your numbness by pricking your gum with a sharp implement. Once you are numb, your dentist will extract the tooth by using implements that go under the gum and help loosen the tooth. If you have an impacted wisdom tooth, your dentist may have to break the tooth in several pieces in order to facilitate the extraction. After removal, your dentist stitches the hole in your mouth and gives you gauze to absorb the excess blood.
After the extraction, you will need to apply ice for hours and avoid using a straw for several days, because the sucking action can loosen the stitches. Swelling and pain typically cease after a few days, but if you experience prolonged pain after that, you should visit your dentist as you may have an infection. For more information, contact The Caring Dental Team.