What are wisdom teeth?
Many of us will have a third set of molars emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. These are referred to as wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are generally harmless if they erupt healthy and straight. However, if your wisdom teeth are misaligned or cannot fully erupt, dental surgery to remove your wisdom teeth may be recommended.
When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?
Your dentist can help preserve your oral health – and prevent future problems – by removing problematic wisdom teeth. In some cases, a patient will have to have their wisdom teeth extracted so that they don't get in the way of another procedure (for example, corrective jaw surgery).
Wisdom teeth should ideally be extracted before they cause pain or discomfort, and before an infection develops. Even if your wisdom teeth aren't bothering you, they can cause crowding, which can lead to tooth decay because crowded teeth are 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?
It is usually best to have wisdom teeth extracted around the age of 18. This is because the tooth roots have not yet fully formed and attached to the jaw bone. When this occurs, the procedure and recovery process may become more difficult.
Signs you need to have your wisdom teeth removed
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your dentist, as 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?
Because of the use of sedatives and anesthetics, tooth extractions are far less painful than in the past. In many cases, patients who have their wisdom teeth extracted experience little to no discomfort and may only experience minor bleeding.
Before the tooth is extracted, the area around the tooth will be numbed with an injectable or topical anesthetic to try and 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, approximately. Recovery takes a few days, with some potential discomfort and swelling within the first 2 to 3 days.
Eat soft foods, avoid strenuous physical activity, and follow your dentist's advice and post-care instructions while healing. If you follow these steps, you should have a quick recovery.