Wisdom teeth usually appear between ages 17 and 25 and in many cases, their presence is marked by pain and discomfort. Not everyone gets them, but those who do, often find it necessary to have their third set of molars removed.
Wisdom teeth can cause problems in the following situations:
1) They are improperly aligned and must be removed before they can cause problems to adjacent teeth, jawbone, and nerves.
2) A growing wisdom tooth may only partially erupt due to lack of space and cause the development of a gum tissue flap over the tooth. This can trap food and eventually cause infection, tooth decay, pain, and in some cases, gum disease.
3) Wisdom teeth may not be able to break out of the gum tissue, and may remain stuck or impacted in the jaw. This can lead to infection, jaw stiffness, swelling, and pain which gets worse while chewing.
A dentist may test for the presence of wisdom teeth, and monitor their growth by taking an X-ray. In some cases, wisdom teeth may not pose immediate problems, but may still require constant monitoring to ensure that they are properly aligned, and not causing problems. A dentist may advise wisdom teeth extraction before they cause problems in the future, when removal is likely to be more painful and complicated. Wisdom tooth extraction is simpler when the roots are not yet completely formed. Removal is usually recommended during the teenage years when recovery period is more likely to be shorter. A qualified dentist or oral surgeon generally performs the extraction.
What to Expect
Your dentist or oral surgeon will perform a pre-extraction examination, and inform you of the procedures that will be undertaken. A fully-erupted wisdom tooth is commonly extracted just as easily as regular teeth. Wisdom teeth which are buried under gum tissue, and those that are trapped within the jaw bone, may require gum incision and partial bone removal. The oral surgeon will usually remove impacted tooth in tiny sections to lessen bone damage.
Prior to a wisdom teeth extraction in Washington DC, a local anesthetic is administered to numb the surrounding tissues, so you will not actually feel any pain during the procedure. You may opt for a sedative to manage your anxiety. The oral surgeon will present a number of options which may be given orally or intravenously. You may also prefer to use what is commonly known as “laughing gas” or nitrous oxide.
Inhaling nitrous oxide can effectively relieve your anxiety, but you will be awake and aware as the surgeon does the procedure. The plus side is you will be able to move about after the extraction without need of assistance. With oral or intravenous sedatives, you will be numb and unaware the whole time. You will, however, have to make arrangements for someone to do the driving on the way to an from the appointment.
Recovery time varies, and will depend on the complexity of the procedure. It usually takes several weeks for complete healing to take place, but you will feel a lot more comfortable after a week or two.
In general, you can expect pain, gum bleeding and facial swelling in the next 24 hours after tooth extractions. You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to manage the pain. You will also need to continue taking prescribed antibiotics to avoid infection.