Having Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted

Published:June 27th, 2012

Wisdom tooth removal is nothing to be concerned about

Lots of people have to have their wisdom teeth extracted, and you probably already know quite a few who have undergone this procedure. It is one of those treatments that people tend to be very afraid of having, but really it’s very straightforward and complications are extremely rare. If you visit your dentist regularly then they’ll have been keeping an eye on your wisdom teeth, and will have already let you know if there are likely to be any potential problems in the future.

If you visit your dentist regularly then they’ll have been keeping an eye on your wisdom teeth, and will have already let you know if there are likely to be any potential problems in the future.

Most people get their wisdom teeth from the age of 17, but it’s not uncommon for them to erupt during someone’s 20s or even 30s. They frequently create problems because many people simply don’t have a large enough jaw to accommodate them. This means the wisdom teeth can try to come up underneath other teeth, or can even try to erupt sideways out of the gum.

If your dentist has advised you to have them extracted, then it’s one of those things that is often best done sooner rather than later. The reason for this is that the bone hardens as we get older, and can make extraction slightly more difficult. Most straightforward cases can be extracted by your general dentist, but if your case is a little more complex then they may refer you to an oral surgeon who is highly experienced in carrying out such extractions.

What is the procedure for wisdom tooth extraction?

If you’re extraction is straightforward, then your dentist may give you a local anaesthetic. If you are having more than one extraction, or if the extraction is likely to be more complicated, then you might be offered extra sedation, or even a general anaesthetic. Sedation dentistry simply means that you’ll feel drowsy and are unlikely to remember much of the procedure. However it does mean that you’ll need someone to pick you up from your appointment, and your dentist may want someone to stay with you for a while afterwards to make sure all is well.

The procedure for a tooth extraction involves opening up the gum to remove the tooth, and the extraction site may be closed with stitches afterwards, or could be left open to heal naturally. The stitches may be soluble or non-soluble, and your dentist will tell you which type you have had. There is likely to be some bleeding after the surgery, and you’ll probably given a cotton gauze pad to place over the wound to help stop the bleeding.

After the surgery

Your dentist will give you specific instructions on how to care for your teeth after the surgery, but recovery should be pretty straightforward. Any pain can be relieved with over-the-counter painkillers, or your dentist may have prescribed painkillers. Bleeding should cease within a few hours, but if it goes on any longer than 24 hours you should contact your dentist for advice. If you have any swelling you might find it helpful to use an ice pack, although some people prefer moist heat.

It’s best to stick to soft foods to give the extraction site a chance to heal, and although you should clean around the extraction site you need to take a little bit of care not to dislodge the blood clot which forms in the socket. If this happens you may need additional treatment as it can create a condition called dry socket, and this can delay the healing process by up to a couple of weeks.

You really don’t need your wisdom teeth, so having them extracted doesn’t cause any problems whatsoever. You’ll probably find it much easier to clean your remaining teeth, and you are less likely to suffer from dental decay in this area. As wisdom teeth are so far back in the mouth it can be difficult to clean round them properly, and this is a common site for cavities to form.

About the author

Alison, is a UK born and educated dental professional with over 25 years experience.

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