Wisdom teeth removal is a standard procedure, with an estimated five million people in the United States undergoing this treatment each year. Why is it a necessity to remove these third molars? And what should you expect during your recovery?
Why Do We Remove the Wisdom Teeth?
Most people don’t have enough room in their mouth for the third molars to grow in properly. These back teeth, known as the wisdom teeth, can cause severe problems and complications. Removing the wisdom teeth is an effective way to avoid some of these most common issues, such as:
- Improper Positioning: When the wisdom teeth erupt through the gums, unusual angles can put unnecessary pressure on nearby teeth. Sometimes these teeth are positioned horizontally, which means they won’t come up straight through the gums.
- Impacted Molars: If there isn’t enough room for the teeth to come through, then they remain inside the gums. This impaction can lead to the development of infection: chronic infection damages the bone, nearby teeth, and gums.
- Risk for Decay: It’s difficult to brush and floss when the teeth are crowded or only partially emerged through the gums. If you can’t clean the teeth properly, then the risk of oral infection, gum disease, and tooth decay increases.
- Moving Other Teeth: The molars will put pressure on other teeth to make room to grow. This crowding causes a domino effect that pushes other teeth out of alignment. As a result, it can cause damage to other teeth and your bite changes.
Wisdom tooth removal isn’t necessary for every patient. Talk to your dentist to see if you need to remove these teeth.
Optimal Timing for Wisdom Teeth Removal
Recovery after wisdom teeth removal is more difficult in older adults. Most dentists recommend extraction of these third molars before the teeth emerge fully.
It’s common for older teens and younger adults to undergo wisdom teeth removal. At this point, the roots and bone are still forming. Not only is it easier for the dentist to remove the teeth in these early stages, but it reduces the risk of other complications.
Your dentist might suggest wisdom teeth removal if you are experiencing any of these issues:
- Infections in the soft tissue near the back molars
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Damage to the nearby teeth
- Incorrect positioning (as seen by x-ray)
After Wisdom Tooth Extraction: What to Expect
You’ll need to plan time for recovery after your appointment. It’s a minimally invasive treatment, but you will experience swelling, pain, discomfort, and bleeding in the first few days after the extraction. Here is an overview of some of the most common things patients experience immediately after this dental surgery:
- Bleeding Gums: Follow the dentist’s recommendations to bite on gauze for bleeding control in the first few hours. Blood clots should form within the first day, and the bleeding will subside.
- Pain: You won’t feel a lot of pain immediately after the treatment because of the local anesthetic. As the numbing agent starts to wear off, you will notice pain at the extraction site in the jaw joint and the nearby tissues.
- Swelling: The body is working to heal the injury, so it’s common to experience inflammation in the area. Some people find that their cheeks swell up for a few days after the extraction.
10 Tips for Faster Healing After Wisdom Teeth Removal
If you want to speed up your healing, you must be proactive about following the recommendations from your dentist. You’ll heal faster by following these tips:
- Gauze Pad: During the first few hours, gently bite down on a gauze pad. This gauze helps to stop the bleeding and encourages the body to form blood clots more quickly.
- Ice: Use ice packs on the outside of the cheek for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Ice reduces swelling, helps with pain management, and eases the bruising. Protect your skin by placing a cloth or towel over the ice pack.
- Cleaning: Gently brush your teeth, but avoid disturbing the extraction site with your toothbrush. On the day after the surgery, use warm salt water to swish gently.
- Pain Medication: Most patients use over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen. Or, you might need a prescription, depending on your pain tolerance.
- Antibiotics: One potential complication is the development of an infection. The use of preventive antibiotics can help to avoid infection. If your doctor recommends antibiotics, then be sure to follow the entire prescribed dosage even if the area is starting to heal.
- Soft Diet: Eating soft foods reduces the disruption to your wounds. Stick with easy-to-chew things, such as broth, soup, mashed potatoes, smoothies, Jell-O, and applesauce.
- No Straws: Drinking through a straw can put pressure on the new blood clots. Drink straight from the glass instead of using a straw.
- Take it Easy: Most people need a few days to recover, so plan a lighter schedule after the procedure. Rest helps your body to heal faster. Avoid exercise or strenuous activities for 3 – 5 days after the surgery.
- Avoid Alcohol: Skip alcoholic beverages for at least 48 hours after wisdom teeth removal. Ideally, you shouldn’t drink for a week after the treatment.
- Don’t Smoke: The chemicals in cigarette smoke can irritate your wounds. Avoid both tobacco smoke and electronic cigarettes during your recovery.
Always follow the recommendations from your dentist. These recovery tips might seem simple, but they can make a big difference to speed up your healing time. Additionally, proper care and rest during recovery help you avoid the risk of complications after wisdom teeth removal.
Do you need a tooth extraction? If you still have your wisdom teeth, talk to our team for personalized recommendations for your treatment plan. We provide full-service solutions for the whole family, including both general dentistry and cosmetic treatments.
For more information, call Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas to schedule a dental exam and consultation.