Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
For teeth that are associated with ‘wisdom’, they often come with more than a few problems. As a result, wisdom teeth are often extracted before they have an opportunity to pose any of the common problems that can develop in a young patient.
What’s So Bad About Wisdom Teeth?
While some patients do manage to retain their wisdom teeth, generally we err on the side of caution when determining whether to extract them. These teeth arrive last in the human mouth, often in the teen years or early adulthood, and they appear at the back of the mouth. Usually there are 4 wisdom teeth, however, some patients may have fewer and some even more. These teeth are recessed deep in the gums until they are ready to begin their ascent/descent into the oral cavity. When they do, a number of problems often arrive.
Not Enough Room
Wisdom teeth are the largest teeth with the largest roots in the human mouth. Because they are so large, they demand significant space along the dental arch in order for them to emerge fully and in line with other teeth. They are thought to be an evolutionary ‘leftover’ from a time long ago when humans had to chew fibrous plants for nutrients. These days, there is often not enough room in the mouth to accommodate such large teeth, and as a result they can become impacted.
Whether you visit the Dentist every six month as recommended, or if you haven’t been to the Dentist in years, we want to help you gain and maintain good oral health.
Impaction refers to teeth that are ‘stuck’. When the tooth runs into this problem, it can become lodged in the bone tissue of the mouth, the bone and gums, or partially in the gums. Impacted teeth have the potential to wear away the healthy roots of neighbouring teeth, so they are typically removed to reduce their potential impact on the rest of the mouth.
Teeth that become stuck when they are only partially erupted into the mouth remain covered by a flap of gum tissue. This leads to chronic infection since teeth are used to chew food matter and the action of chewing packs food and bacteria under the flap of skin where it begins to break down and present signs of infection. This can be seen in gum swelling, a bad taste in the back of the mouth, and pain when opening and closing the jaw. Eventually, extraction of these teeth is often the only way to resolve this form of impaction.
When dentigerous cysts form, they often form at the root tip of the wisdom teeth. These cysts are fluid-filled sacks that start small and grow steadily. While these cysts can cause serious damage to the bone and root systems near them, they are not typically painful which means that they aren’t often identified until symptoms become visual (swelling, teeth shifting) or are found with the help of digital X-rays. Extraction allows patients to ‘pass’ on the potential development of one of these cysts.
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Hard to Clean
Wisdom teeth tend to have significant peaks and valleys, and because they are recessed so far back in the mouth, food tends to accumulate around them that isn’t effectively flushed by saliva. This often leads to cavity formation in these teeth, which often go undetected until the decay has led to painful infection of the inner pulp, which must be treated with antibiotics. Removing the wisdom teeth eliminates the potential for these painful infections and their impact on the rest of the mouth.
Most wisdom teeth are easily removed right in your general dentist’s clinic, just as other extractions. Your dentist will carefully analyze the placement of each of your wisdom teeth prior to extraction to ensure that there are no complications that warrant a referral to a dental specialist. If teeth are difficult to access, your dentist may make an incision in the gums to allow the tooth to be freed. If this occurs, you will have a small number of stitches in the mouth to assist the incision in healing.
Extractions are performed under local anesthetic but caring for the wound after extraction will require extra care in order to avoid developing conditions such as infections or dry socket. This could include antibiotic medication which must be taken according to instruction. Eat a cool, soft diet in the days following the extraction to limit swelling and irritation. As you heal, you will find it easier to add more texture to your diet. Avoid using a sucking motion at all costs following your extraction. The action of sucking on a straw could dislodge a critically important blood clot that forms between the bone and the gum after extraction. Once dislodged, the wound could become very painful and will require seeing your dentist to treat with packing. If you are expecting your wisdom teeth, speak to your dentist at your next checkup about your options.
If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.