“Have you had your wisdom teeth removed?” It’s a question that pops up from time to time. But what’s the big deal? If they don’t hurt or aren’t causing problems, you might think the procedure is a waste of time. However, this is far from the truth.
Here, we’ll explain the benefits of getting your wisdom teeth removed, when and why you need to, as well as a breakdown of the procedure.
When Not to Remove
Let’s address this first. There are some cases, though rare, where wisdom teeth do not need to be removed. Of course, this should only happen with the approval of a dental professional. Do not decide to skip the procedure unless you have the express permission of your dentist.
Your dentist can help determine if you can keep your wisdom teeth. They might approve foregoing the procedure if the following conditions are met:
- The wisdom teeth are healthy.
- They are able to grow in completely and not press on the gums.
- They are positioned correctly without impacting surrounding teeth.
- They bite properly with their opposing teeth.
- You can brush and floss them daily without struggle.
Most people, however, do not meet all these requirements.
When to Remove
Human jaws have slowly become smaller as we have evolved, leaving less and less room for teeth. Thus, our wisdom teeth, remnants of our past, no longer have room to grow the way they were meant to. This causes many problems. Wisdom teeth that are allowed to grow and erupt without being removed can end up coming out in various angles in the jaw. Sometimes, they will even grow in horizontally.
This is if they erupt at all. Some wisdom teeth do not even have the room to emerge. This means that they become trapped/impacted within the jaw. This can result in an infection or a cyst. These can easily cause damage to other teeth, roots or the bone support in your jaw.
If the teeth have a little room to emerge, they will. But, they usually are only able to emerge partially. This often occurs in the back of the mouth and is extremely difficult to clean. The passageway of the partially grown in wisdom teeth is perfect for bacteria that cause gum disease and infections.
No matter how they emerge, if at all, wisdom teeth crowd the other teeth nearby. This makes the rest of your mouth more difficult to clean. Their growth could even damage some of the surrounding teeth.
Dentists will recommend removal if they observe the following symptoms:
- Impacted teeth
- Damage to nearby back teeth
- Extensive tooth decay
- Repeated infection of the tissue behind the last lower tooth
Other factors that play a role in removal are age, shape of the mouth, and position of the teeth.
Why Should I Remove?
The above examples are just the main problems that come with leaving your wisdom teeth in. There are also future problems that could lead to a lower quality of life and life expectancy overall. Some additional issues that can result include:
Wisdom teeth can cause jaw damage. This is caused by the cysts that form around the impacted teeth. In these cases, the cysts can hollow out your jaw and cause extreme nerve damage. The damage can get to the point where you’ll be unable to chew properly.
Sinus Pressure, Pain, and Infection
The mouth and nose are both connected through the same system. That means that one being injured affects the other. If you leave your wisdom teeth in and they begin to cause problems, this can lead to sinus pain, pressure, and constant congestion.
Cavities are frequent visitors to those who did not get their wisdom teeth removed. The swollen gums that come with the frequent infections are perfect beds for bacteria to grow and flourish.
Even if your dentist says that your wisdom teeth are healthy and alright, it still might be good to remove them. This is because when you get older, the bones in your mouth get harder. This makes teeth tougher to remove. If you end up waiting too long, surgery could become the only solution.
What Should I Know About the Procedure?
Know that the procedure is not painful. A professional will always use proper anesthesia or put you under for the process. At most, you should only feel pressure/pushing but no pain. Communication is most important, so if you end up feeling pain, let your dentist know.
The procedure itself is extremely simple. Either a small incision will be made in the gum to access the wisdom tooth or the dentist will start right where it has erupted. In both cases, the surgeon will cut the tooth into smaller parts to make it easier to be removed. Most procedures take about 20 minutes, but if your wisdom teeth are more complicated, they could take longer.
Afterwards, dissolving stitches are used to seal the gum. You might be prescribed antibiotics if you have an infection that is ongoing.
For 24 hours, you should avoid rinsing your mouth with liquid, smoking, drinking alcohol, hot foods and liquids, and strenuous physical activity. Your jaw and mouth will feel numb until the anesthesia wears off. You might feel some soreness or dull pain after it wears off, but the doctor will probably give you pain medication for this.
After the surgery, take it easy for 7 to 10 days. Be careful with what you eat and stick to soft foods that won’t irritate your stitches. Easy foods include smoothies, hummus, applesauce, and mashed potatoes.
You should schedule a follow-up after the healing process is complete, so your dentist can check your progress. This way you get the all clear before going back into your regular schedule.
If you have yet to get your wisdom teeth removed and you know it’s time, give us a call at Valley Ridge Dental Centre today. Our friendly staff are here to make sure that you feel comfortable throughout the whole procedure.