Many people seek to gain wisdom throughout life, but some may not realize that they might already have some towards the back of their mouth...their wisdom teeth
! Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are typically the last teeth in the mouth to erupt, and are the last molars present on the upper and lower jaw. Since they are the last permanent teeth to erupt (usually between the ages of 17 and 25), sometimes there is not enough space for them, which can lead to impacted wisdom teeth. If your dentist tells you that you have an impacted wisdom tooth
, this means that your tooth may have only partially erupted, or stayed buried underneath the gum tissue.
When this occurs, symptoms including swelling, infection, pain, or tenderness may develop. Some people however, may not experience any problems with their wisdom teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that people between ages 16 and 19 be evaluated by their dentist to see if they need to be removed. This age range is preferred by dentists because the roots of the wisdom teeth are usually not fully formed yet and are easier to remove than in older patients. Also, the risk of developing greater problems is lowered the earlier they are removed, including damage to the major nerve on the lower jaw, the inferior alveolar nerve. People receiving braces may also be recommended to remove their wisdom teeth to avoid their eruption altering the alignment of their teeth.
If it is determined by your dentist or dental specialist that your wisdom teeth need to be extracted, they will recommend either local anesthesia, IV sedation, or general anesthesia depending on the multiple factors of each case. After the extraction, you may be asked to bite softly on a piece of gauze for approximately 30 minutes to limit any bleeding. Bleeding, swelling and tenderness post-extraction are common and may last normally for a few days. However, if it is to continue past a few days, it is important to contact your dentist.
It is recommended not to brush, rinse, or spit within the first 24 hours after the extraction to allow proper healing of the extraction site. Staying hydrated and eating is important following the extraction for your recovery. It is important not to drink through a straw however, as this can lead to dry socket. Dry socket is a possible complication of wisdom tooth removal, which can occur during the first five days after extraction. This happens when the blood clot that formed a seal after the extraction begins to break down and exposes the bone and nerves of the tooth. Only approximately 2 to 5% of people will develop a dry socket. According to a study published in the Journal of Oral Health and Dental Management, dry socket was more common in people who smoke and more likely to occur in the lower jaw. Dry socket can be very painful and may present with an unpleasant smell or taste, but can be treated by your dentist. The site will be cleaned of all debris and covered with a medication until it heals.
If your wisdom teeth are still present and healthy within your mouth, be sure that you are still brushing and flossing them, as these teeth can still develop tooth decay.
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.