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Wisdom tooth surgery is a very common dental procedure, each year five million people have their wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth are the four molars (one in each corner of the mouth) that erupt later in someone’s life. They typically appear between 17 and 25 years of age. Due to their late arrival, wisdom teeth can wreak havoc on the teeth already in place. Generally, wisdom teeth will erupt in a crooked fashion and cause the other teeth to shift and change position. If they are not extracted quickly the teeth formation of the entire mouth can be affected. This could cause someone who had perfectly straight teeth before, to now need braces. Also, teeth that were previously straightened with braces could become crooked again. There is also a great deal of pain associated with erupting wisdom teeth, as the interior alveolar nerve (part of the largest nerve in the brain) is just below the wisdom teeth. Our office routinely sees patients for this procedure, and have consequently, been asked numerous questions about wisdom teeth. Below are some of the most common questions we are asked.
What Does The Procedure Entail?
Impacted wisdom teeth can be found in various states, and how they are positioned is determined by how much room there is left in the mouth. A full panorex x-ray is used to determine their exact position. The dentist will start by sedating the individual with either Nitrous Oxide (known commonly as laughing gas) or an IV sedative. The Nitrous Oxide is a milder form of sedation and puts the patient into a semi-conscious state; Whereas IV sedation will put the patient completely under. Depending on the complexity and of the case, the dentist will recommend a form of sedation. If the tooth is visible then the dentist can remove the gum tissue and other connective tissues from around the tooth. Sometimes a wisdom tooth does not fully erupt but instead, stays inside of the jaw bone, which is called impacted. The dentist will then use techniques to remove the bone covering the tooth. Sometimes the tooth itself needs to be taken out in sections while removing it. Finally, the dentist will suture the gum where the tooth had been. Recovery time is generally quite quickly, especially for younger patients, ranging from three to seven days. However, the gum will not be completely healed for a few months. During the first week of post-surgery, you will want to be careful not to do anything strenuous that would cause the stitches or the blood clot around the suture opening to rupture or break. Smoking and drinking from a straw are a few examples of things you would want to avoid. Generally, the procedure takes around an hour to complete and the patient will not be able to drive afterward due to the anesthetic. Driving arrangements will want to be made in advance.
What Is A Dry Socket?
The rupturing of a blood clot is known as a dry socket. This is when the clot that is placed over the hole where the tooth had been, is dislodged. We typically see this with people who smoke or do not adhere to the soft food diet. If the clot is broken, simply putting in a dressing in its place will be sufficient. The clot is only there to keep food particles out of the tooth socket, so as long as something is in its place you will be fine. However, you may feel some discomfort as the nerve endings will be more exposed, this pain will subside in a few days.
What Can I Eat After Surgery?
During the first few days of recovery, you will want to stick with a soft food diet. A few good examples are mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs and soup. After a few days, you will be able to go back to your normal eating habits.
Are There Possible Complications?
There rarely are complications with wisdom tooth removal. The most important thing to watch out for is an infection. It is important to maintain proper oral hygiene while your mouth heals from the surgery. It is also best to remove all of your wisdom teeth at one time. If one tooth has caused you a problem, odds are one of the others will as well and it will be easier for you to have them done at the same time. This also reduces the chance for complications in the future as it is easier to recover from surgery at a younger age.
Hopefully, this has answered some of your questions. If you still have a few more, please give us a call. You can also find more information about wisdom teeth on our website at www.jacksonfamilydentistrywi.com