Wisdom Teeth FAQs
Wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most common oral surgery procedures performed, and for good reason. Most individuals have their wisdom teeth removed in their teens or twenties to avoid complications when they are older.
What are wisdom teeth?
The wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to erupt in the back of the mouth. Most people have one each in the back of the upper and lower jaws on both sides, but some only have one, two, or three that fully develop. The wisdom teeth often cause problems because there is not enough room in the back of the mouth for them to come in correctly. Removing them before complications occur is the best way to forestall damage to your oral health.
What is the best age for wisdom teeth removal?
It depends. If you are suffering from an impacted wisdom tooth or pain, you should have your wisdom teeth removed as soon as possible. Most patients have their wisdom teeth extracted between 16-25 if they are not yet causing problems, however we frequently remove wisdom teeth for patients of all ages.
As you grow older, the roots of your teeth grow longer, making it more difficult to remove impacted wisdom teeth. Patients who wait until they are over 30 to have wisdom tooth extraction have more complications, including cysts and even small tumors. We recommend removing your wisdom teeth as early as possible to minimize pain and promote rapid healing.
What happens if you do not remove wisdom teeth?
For some people, nothing happens if they keep their third molars in place, but this is the exception and not the norm. Most individuals experience problems later in life if their wisdom teeth remain in the jawbone or partially erupt.
Potential problems include the following:
- Cysts and tumors from impacted teeth
- Crowding of or damage to other teeth
- An impacted, painful tooth
- Difficulty brushing and flossing around a partially erupted tooth
- Tooth decay in the wisdom teeth and surrounding teeth
- Gum disease
- An abscess in the jawbone
When is it okay to keep wisdom teeth?
If your wisdom teeth have fully erupted and are not impinging on adjacent teeth, causing pain, or crooked, you may be able to keep them. If the wisdom teeth have never erupted at all and you are over 40, you may want to wait and see whether they cause any problems, as the surgery is more complicated, and your healing time will be longer. Dr. Albright recommends removing your wisdom teeth before they become a problem, so you do not have to deal with issues such as abscesses, infections, or partial tooth eruptions later in life.
Do I have to get all four wisdom teeth removed?
Dr. Albright suggests removing all four wisdom teeth to prevent crowding and as a more convenient option to prevent further procedures and time off of work down the road. If you do not remove all of them simultaneously, the remaining teeth may become impacted later in life, come in partially, or crowd other teeth as you age. Having only one surgery is better than undergoing an additional procedure later.
Are you awake during wisdom tooth extraction?
Most patients prefer to be asleep during wisdom tooth extraction. We provide our patients with IV sedation for the procedure. They will not remember anything about the surgery after they wake up. Dr. Albright will review your anesthesia and sedation options with you at your initial consultation.
How do you Treat Wisdom Tooth Pain at Home?
Impacted or infected wisdom teeth often cause a dull, throbbing pain that can distract you and disrupt your sleep. Until you can schedule a wisdom tooth appointment, try these tips for controlling the pain:
- Ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain reliever
- Ice packs placed against the cheek
- Warm saltwater rinses
- Clove oil or peppermint oil applied to the tooth and gums
- A cold, wet teabag applied to the area
- Over-the-counter numbing gel such as Orajel
These are not cures for wisdom tooth pain, these are simply solutions to reduce discomfort before your appointment. If you are experiencing swelling in your face, this could be a sign of infection and requires immediate extraction. Please call us at Steven C. Albright, DDS Phone Number 210-490-4044 right away to schedule.
Can I go to work or school after having my wisdom teeth removed?
You can return to classes or your job three to four days after having your wisdom teeth removed if you feel up to it, but some patients may need up to a week for recovery. It depends on your pain tolerance, swelling, and the complexity of your wisdom tooth extraction.
What is a dry socket?
After wisdom tooth removal, the empty socket where the tooth was located needs time to heal. A blog clot acts as a protective layer over the socket, keeping air away from the irritated jawbone and nerve endings in the tooth socket. If the clot falls off too soon, the exposed bone and nerves cause intense pain that can radiate across the side of the face and trigger an earache or headache.
To prevent a dry socket, we carefully cover the incision site and empty socket with gauze immediately after surgery. When you are home, you will bite down on the gauze periodically until the blood clot forms. Once the blood clot is in place, it will prevent a dry socket until the area is healed or the clot is dislodged. If you suspect you have a dry socket, contact our office immediately. We can provide you with pain relief and re-pack the area until a new clot forms.
Two out of ten patients will experience dry sockets. If you are experiencing pain from dry sockets, give our office a call. Dr. Albright can place medicated gauze into the extraction site and you will feel relief within minutes. Dr. Albright does not charge his patients to treat dry sockets.
Do not delay having your or your child’s wisdom teeth removed. The sooner the procedure is done, the easier recovery will be. Scheduling a wisdom tooth consultation is the first step. Call our office immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of an infected or impacted wisdom tooth. We will get you into the office quickly and help alleviate your pain until we can schedule your wisdom tooth surgery. Call Steven C. Albright, DDS Phone Number 210-490-4044 any time; we will make every effort to fit you in as soon as possible.