The majority of Americans will have one or more of their wisdom teeth removed, making wisdom teeth removal one of the most common procedures. In just one year, as many as 10 million wisdom teeth are removed, but the actual procedure, its recovery, and the reasons behind their removal remain something of a mystery to many.
This article will cover everything that you need to know about wisdom teeth removal. We’ll look at questions like:
- What exactly are wisdom teeth?
- How much does extraction cost?
- What is recovery like?
We also will have a short q&a at the end to cover any other questions you might have.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Let’s start with the basics. Wisdom teeth are also known as the third molars. They are typically the last ones to erupt and they often emerge between the ages 17 to 21. A dentist will often begin evaluating the jaw and the potential for teeth to erupt impacted around the age of 16.
Wisdom teeth are most often removed from the jaw because there is no room for the four extra teeth to fit in the jaw.
So then why do we even have wisdom teeth in the first place? Scientists have come to theorize that our ancestors originally needed the extra set of molars to process tough foods, like raw meat, leaves, roots, and nuts. But, once humans invented cooking and cutlery, we were no longer relying on our teeth to cut, soften, or mash our food before we digest it. So, we began to evolve to not need the wisdom teeth anymore. Some people are not even born with them.
Why are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
The usual reason that wisdom teeth are removed is that they can cause problems if left in the jaw. Wisdom teeth can erupt at odd angles, or cause great pain as they emerge. This can put pressure on the other teeth, causing them to become crowded. This isn’t the case for everyone, however.
When a wisdom tooth comes in at a strange angle, this is called being impacted. Sometimes they get stuck and can’t break through the gums. And on top of it, as you age your bones get harder, which in turn makes it harder to extract the tooth. While most teeth don’t need to be removed right away, waiting can make it harder to remove the teeth without complications.
When Do Wisdom Teeth Come In?
The American Dental Association recommends that people between the ages of 16 and 19 get their wisdom teeth examined by a dentist to determine if they will need to get their wisdom teeth removed. There is no perfect age to get them removed, instead the best time to do it depends on the patient, the size of the teeth, and where they are entering.
Some other factors that are considered include:
- Impacted teeth. This is where the teeth grow in at odd angles, and should be taken care of soon.
- Crowding. When the teeth are pushed too close together, they can cause pain, and lead to infection from bacteria growing between the teeth.
- Pain. Any pain or discomfort is a sign that the teeth need to be removed.
Must Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?
Wisdom Teeth should be removed whenever they are going to cause problems for the rest of the jaw. This is often spotted by doing X-rays in visits starting around the age of 16. These X-rays can reveal any potential future problems. Other reasons why the teeth are removed include:
- Tooth damage. The other teeth can become damaged from the increased pressure exerted on them by the molars.
- Jaw damage. When a wisdom tooth comes in impacted, it can create a cyst around the new teeth, which could damage the jaw bone.
- Sinus pain. The pressure of the wisdom teeth pressing in on the jaw can cause sinus pain, pressure, and/or congestion.
- Inflamed gums The gum tissue around the erupting teeth can become inflamed and more difficult to properly clean.
- Cavities. The inflammation of the gums can subsequently lead to more cavities as the bacteria has more places to grow in.
- Misalignment. The other teeth can be pushed out of alignment as a result of the erupted tooth.
Why Extract Wisdom Teeth?
The most common reason to remove wisdom teeth is that they will become impacted when they grow in. An impacted tooth refers to when a tooth forms but does not erupt. When a tooth does not fully emerge, this is called partially impacted.
An impacted tooth can result in a number of issues, and the most common recommendation a dentist will make is to remove the wisdom teeth. This can prevent:
- Tooth pain
- Tooth decay
- Damage to the teeth and gums
- Jawbone damage
- Irritated gums
- Cysts or tumors
- Shifting of the teeth
- Jaw and gum disease
What Is The Procedure Like? Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Painful?
This is a common question and an understandable one. Many people may feel hesitant to have surgery performed on them if it will just cause a lot of pain.
Luckily, wisdom teeth removal is painless because you will be under general or local anesthesia. Other methods of pain management can be arranged before the surgery.
After the surgery, people do experience pain, but the amount of discomfort depends on the pain medication proscribed, and the patient’s natural pain tolerance. It is common to experience discomfort for three days after the procedure.
What Happens During Tooth Extraction?
Wisdom tooth extraction is a kind of oral surgery. The gums are cut open to allow access to the wisdom teeth. Then the connective tissue that binds the tooth to the jaw is removed, and then the tooth itself is removed. Last, the gums are sewn shut. Sometimes the surgeon will have to remove the tooth in sections.
How Bad Is Wisdom Tooth Recovery?
Recovery often takes between 5 and 7 days. You may experience these things during the recovery:
- In the first 24 hours expect to bleed at the surgery site. This can be controlled by bing down on some gauze for 45 minutes.
- You may also experience facial swelling, which can be managed by applying a cold pack or ice to the area for ten minutes and then removing it for 20 minutes.
- You may have to return to the oral surgeon to get stitches removed, but many surgeons use self-dissolving stitches that do not need to be removed.
- Consider using over the counter pain medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help manage the pain.
- Refrain from rinsing the mouth for 24 hours after surgery. Once that time has passed, gently rinse with salt water after meals and before bedtime. Keep up the rinses for five days after the surgery.
- Have mostly liquids after the surgery. Foods like pudding, applesauce, and mashed potatoes are great options.
- Keep up your regular brushing and flossing routine, careful to avoid the extraction site.
What Does It Cost To Remove Wisdom Teeth?
Luckily, dental insurance mostly covered the cost of wisdom teeth removal. The actual cost can vary, but it can range from $75 to $200 per tooth, with impacted teeth being $225 to $600 per tooth.
Check with your insurance provider to see if they cover wisdom teeth removal. Most count it as preventative care.
Does It Hurt To Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?
You should not feel any pain during the surgery as the area will be numbed or you will be under general anesthesia. If you do feel discomfort or pain during the surgery, let your surgeon know and the anesthetic can be adjusted.
Do They Break Your Jaw To Remove Your Wisdom Teeth?
This is a common misconception. There is no need to break the jaw in order to remove the wisdom teeth.
Can You Remove Your Own Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth should always be removed by an oral surgeon or your dentist. They will be able to take an X-ray of your mouth and recommend surgery if needed.
What Happens If You Wait To Remove Wisdom Teeth?
Most extractions do not require immediate attention. However, waiting too long can lead to some negative consequences down the road, including infection, orthodontic problems, or an abscess.
Can You Remove All Four Wisdom Teeth At Once?
Yes, this is very safe and common to do.
Does Your Smile Change When You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Out?
The alignment of your smile might change, but getting your wisdom teeth out generally results in less crowding, an overall gain for your smile.
Upland Dental Group & Implant Center in Upland, CA can do all the necessary dental work to determine the option that’s right for you. Upland Dental Group & Implant Center proudly serves the Upland area with a full range of Dental & Implant services. Give us a call at (909) 985-1966 to schedule an appointment.