Having wisdom teeth removed is a common procedure, but what exactly are these teeth? A wisdom tooth is a molar that comes in all the way at the back of the upper or lower jaw. These teeth are the third molars that grow and the final ones that come in through the gums. Unlike other molars, wisdom teeth usually don’t come in until the teenage years or the early 20s.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Come in Late?
These teeth typically start growing inside the upper and lower jaws at around 7 years of age and show up when you’re between 17 and 21 years old. This differs from other teeth, which begin growing when you’re born or just before you’re born. Doctors aren’t entirely certain of their purpose since they aren’t needed for chewing. Some researchers believe that they might have been needed in the past to replace molars worn down by chewing rougher foods.
Why Do They Cause Problems?
Wisdom teeth don’t cause problems for everyone. However, they can become impacted in some cases. This means that they aren’t able to completely break through the gums or that they don’t enough space to come in, which can lead to pain and infections. When these teeth are impacted, you might also have a higher risk of developing gum disease or tooth decay, since it’s harder to keep this area of your mouth clean. Cysts can also form below your wisdom teeth when they’re impacted, which can increase your risk of bone loss. The teeth that do come in all the way can end up being crowded, leading to discomfort and a more difficult time brushing and flossing.
Common signs of impacted teeth include the following:
- Pain and swelling
- Bleeding gums
- Headaches or sore jaws
- A bad taste in the mouth while eating
- Bad breath
- Jaw stiffness
If you have any signs of impacted teeth, it’s important to seek dental care. This helps lower the risk of infections and other oral health problems. Keep in mind that having regular dental exams can show whether or not you have impacted teeth. Even if you don’t have symptoms, your dentist might recommend having them removed to prevent problems from occurring.
How Are They Treated?
Wisdom teeth that are impacted are typically extracted or removed since these teeth aren’t needed. Taking them out reduces the risk of damage to the molars next to them due to overcrowding. It also leads to a lower risk of gum disease, tooth decay and infections associated with impacted teeth. Having impacted teeth removed when you’re in your late teens or early 20s is usually recommended since this procedure is easier to do during this time. At this age, the roots of these teeth aren’t fully developed and the bone around them isn’t as thick. This leads to a lower risk of damage to other teeth or nerves during extraction.
Depending on how many of your teeth are impacted, you might need local anesthesia or general anesthesia. If you only need one tooth removed, for example, this is usually done with local anesthesia. If you need all four teeth removed, your oral surgeon will recommend general anesthesia. After receiving anesthesia, the oral surgeon will remove the impacted tooth or teeth. If your oral surgeon uses local anesthesia, you can expect to experience numbness in that part of your mouth, which gradually wears off after surgery. If you are under general anesthesia, you can expect to be unconscious during the procedure.
What Is the Recovery Process?
Your oral surgeon might have you bite down on gauze immediately after extraction to reduce bleeding. You might also experience pain and tenderness, along with some swelling. Follow your oral surgeon’s instructions on how to care for the extractions sites in your mouth after surgery. You should be able to take over-the-counter pain medications to relieve discomfort and soreness. If you have swelling, applying an ice pack to the affected area might help. It’s important to eat a diet of soft foods and liquids for at least the first few days after surgery. This helps protect the extraction site from developing dry socket, which is a painful condition that occurs when the blood clot in this area breaks down. Having impacted teeth removed won’t affect your bite once the area is fully healed.
If you have symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth or if you need an exam, please contact Central Avenue Dental to make an appointment. We offer high-quality dental care in Manhattan and the Valley Stream area.