What are wisdom teeth?
Between the ages of 17 and 25, many of us will have a third set of molars emerge. These are known as wisdom teeth. If they are healthy and straight when they erupt, wisdom teeth are generally harmless. However, if your wisdom teeth come in misaligned, or cannot erupt completely, dental surgery may be recommended so your wisdom teeth can be removed.
When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?
By removing problematic wisdom teeth, your dentist can help preserve your oral health – and prevent issues in the future. In some cases, a patient will undergo another procedure (example: corrective jaw surgery) that requires their wisdom teeth to be extracted so they won’t be in the way.
Ideally, wisdom teeth should be removed before they cause pain or discomfort, and before an infection develops. Even if your wisdom teeth aren’t causing pain, they may still eventually cause crowding, which can lead to tooth decay as crowded teeth can be difficult to clean.
You’ll want to schedule your wisdom teeth extraction in advance, and allow a few days for recovery.
At what age do most people have their wisdom teeth removed?
Typically, it’s ideal to have wisdom teeth removed around the age of 18. This is because the tooth roots haven’t completely formed and hooked to the jaw bone. Once this happens, the procedure and recovery process can be more difficult.
How can I tell if I should have my wisdom teeth removed?
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your dentist. The list below includes some common signs that your wisdom teeth could be causing problems:
- Sinus problems
- Bad breath (caused by plaque bacteria collecting on the wisdom teeth, or infection)
- Pain in teeth or jaw
- Difficulty eating
- Gum inflammation
- Facial swelling (caused by impacted wisdom teeth that remain below the gum surface)
- Misaligned wisdom teeth
Is it painful to have your wisdom teeth removed?
Tooth extractions are far less painful today than ever before, due to the use of sedatives and anesthetics. In many cases, patients who have wisdom teeth pulled experience little to no discomfort, and perhaps only minor bleeding.
Before the tooth is extracted, the area around the tooth will be numbed with an injectable or topical anesthetic to ensure comfort.
Once your dentist has removed the tooth, he or she will discuss tooth replacements options with you. These may include bridges or dentures.
How long does recovery from wisdom teeth removal take?
Many dentists use techniques such as IV sedation so the procedure is as comfortable as possible for patients.
Expect to be in and out of your appointment in about an hour. Recovery takes a few days, with some potential discomfort and swelling within the first 2 to 3 days.
During healing, eat soft foods, refrain from strenuous physical activity, and follow your dentist’s advice and post-care instructions. If you do these things you should have a smooth recovery process.