Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
If you’re in your teens or early adulthood and you begin to show signs of wisdom teeth emerging, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is, it may be necessary to remove them – but the good news is, once you do, you will very likely not have to deal with any more ‘teething’ discomfort for life!
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth, and they are located behind your molars at the very back of the dental arch nearest the throat. These teeth tend to make a loud entrance, since they are the largest teeth in your mouth with the most substantial roots. Wisdom teeth often bring with them challenges due to their size, including infection, decay, impaction and erosion of other root systems. For these reasons, dentists often recommend their removal to prevent the teeth from causing unnecessary suffering or displacement of other teeth.
What’s the Big Deal?
The wisdom teeth present unique challenges compared to other teeth, owing to their size and position in the mouth. Since they are recessed in the back, it is easy for food and bacteria to be collected around them, but it’s not very easy to get your toothbrush and floss back there to clean effectively. This can result in decay and/or infection. Infected wisdom teeth are a concern, since their root systems can be found to extend down around major nerves, and up into the sinuses.
Not all wisdom teeth make it to the surface. If they are not able to be accommodated along the jaw line, they may become impacted (stuck). Some teeth will remain in the bone tissue, while others will lay horizontally in the mouth and impact the health of other teeth. Some will erupt into the mouth but will be partially covered by soft tissue. When gum tissue is lying over the wisdom teeth, it becomes a warm, dark place for food and bacteria to be trapped and cultivated. As the acids from the bacteria in our mouths attack the enamel, decay and infection can begin to set in.
What Can I Expect While Having the Tooth or Teeth Extracted?
If your dentist is telling you that your teeth can be safely extracted under local anesthetic at their clinic, it’s because their analysis of your X-rays indicated that the tooth’s position didn’t pose any concern that requires a surgeon or other dental specialist. Your extraction will be conducted much the same way as any other tooth extraction, with the addition of different aftercare instructions.
Your extraction will produce an open socket over which a protective blood clot will form. It is critical not to disturb this clot because it is helping your wound heal and keeping air from accessing the open nerve. You will not have to do it for long, but while your wound is healing you should abstain from any sucking motion whatsoever. This includes cigarettes, straws and vigorous rinsing. You may find cool drinks and Slurpees offer relief while healing, but it is important to consume these with a spoon or from a cup until you have healed sufficiently.
To control discomfort, your dentist may provide prescription medications, or they may recommend that you use Tylenol or Advil to offer comfort. An ice pack placed on the outside of the cheek can take the edge off any discomfort that you may feel in the first couple of days following extraction. If your dentist has placed any stitches around the extraction, they will explain how to care for these in the days following your dental visit.
It is important to keep up your oral hygiene after a wisdom tooth extraction, since a clean environment is more conducive to healing. Continue to brush and floss but do so carefully and avoid the extraction site. Remember not to rinse vigorously after brushing, rather, tip your head from side to side to rinse gently before spitting.
You will find soft and cool foods most appealing and comfortable to eat in the days after your extraction, and you will gradually be able to reintroduce more textures as your comfort allows. Start with puddings and jellos and introduce thin soups as tolerated. You are the best judge of what your body needs, so go slow, and before you know it you will be back to crunching celery sticks and all your favourites. The mouth heals relatively quickly, but don’t force the issue by smoking or otherwise exposing the wound to irritants.
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If at any time you experience unusual persistent pain along with fever or chills and a foul taste in the mouth, see your dentist urgently to investigate the possibility of infection and treatment. If you are prescribed antibiotics, it is important to take them all, and take them as directed.
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