It is estimated that ten million impacted wisdom teeth are removed every year. This means that you or someone you know has probably experienced this type of oral surgery. Even so, the thought of wisdom tooth extraction strikes fear and apprehension in many people. Knowing more about why it’s necessary and the procedure itself may alleviate your concerns.
Wisdom teeth are the furthest teeth in the back of your mouth, and come in later than all of your other teeth. Sometimes they don’t erupt at all, becoming stuck or impacted in your gums. Even if they do come in naturally, they may not fit in your mouth properly with the rest of your teeth.
There are some common issues that necessitate the removal of wisdom teeth. These include:
- Impaction – impacted teeth may grow sideways and even damage your jawbone.
- Infection – teeth that partially erupt can cause openings in your gums that allow bacteria inside, causing sometimes serious infections.
- Tumors and cysts – complications like tumors and cysts can develop around impacted wisdom teeth, sometimes damaging to the gums and jaw.
- Pressure – impacted teeth can pressure the surrounding teeth, causing abnormal growth, tooth decay, and orthodontic problems.
The best way to avoid these types of issues is to have your wisdom teeth surgically removed. Many dentists recommend removing them even before you’re experiencing problems, so that you avoid problems later. Your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon. After a consultation and examination including X-rays, a treatment plan will be determined.
Wisdom tooth extraction is an outpatient procedure in the surgeon’s office, using some level of anesthesia. Sometimes only local anesthesia is required, while some cases benefit from deeper levels of anesthesia for your comfort and health. Afterwards, you will experience some discomfort and should follow the doctor’s advice for care. Ice, pain medications, a soft diet, and rest are advised. A follow-up visit will be scheduled to monitor your healing. Typically, you will be back to normal in a few days and won’t have to worry about your wisdom teeth again.
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