Wisdom Teeth: When to Have Them Removed and What to Expect
When you were a kid, you probably looked forward to some of the milestones that you saw older kids reach: your first lost tooth, your first airplane ride, your drivers’ license. Other milestones, you probably avoided as long as you could: your first heartbreak, your first broken bone, and the removal of your wisdom teeth.
But now the time has come, and your dentist says you need to remove your wisdom teeth. Why is that important? Why do some people need them taken out? And, by the way, what are wisdom teeth?
Your questions answered
Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that, for most people, come in between ages 17 and 25. If they grow in correctly without crowding the rest of your teeth, then you probably won’t need them removed. But if your dentist says you need your wisdom teeth removed, there’s probably a reason. It may be that your dentist can foresee issues based on X-rays that show your wisdom teeth coming in, even if they haven’t caused you any pain yet.
Although wisdom teeth will not cause problems for everyone, they do have the potential to do serious damage in your mouth and undo orthodontics received in earlier years.
Some reasons you may need your wisdom teeth removed
- They’re coming in at the wrong angle
- They’re impacted – or trapped in your jawbone or gums
- There’s not enough room for them in your mouth
At Soft Touch Dental in San Diego, we understand that you may have questions about the procedure and whether or not it’s necessary for you. Dr. Fakhimi would be happy to tell you why he does or doesn’t recommend that you remove your wisdom teeth.
Some people can and do keep their wisdom teeth without any problems, but if your dentist does recommend it, it’s better to have the extraction procedure done before the wisdom teeth cause you pain or change the alignment of your other teeth.
The day of the procedure
Wisdom tooth extraction is minor surgery, and as such, you will need an anesthetic of some kind. At Soft Touch Dental, depending on the complexity of the procedure as well as your comfort level, we offer three types of anesthesia:
Local – We’ll numb the extraction area. You’ll be fully awake and will feel some pressure but no pain.
Sedation – We’ll give you a medication that will ease your anxiety and relax you during the procedure. You’ll be awake but may drift in and out. You may not remember the much about the procedure. We will also numb the extraction area.
General – We will give you a medication that will put you to sleep for the entire process. When you wake up you will remember nothing. If you have extreme anxiety or phobia, or if your extraction is particularly complex, this may be a good fit for you. We’ll apply a local anesthetic to help with post-procedure pain.
During your wisdom tooth extraction, Dr. Fakhimi will make an incision in your gums to remove the tooth as well as any bone that blocks access to the tooth’s root. He will clean the site and stitch up the wound to promote healing (if necessary). He will also put some gauze over the extraction site to control the bleeding.
If you have had sedation or general anesthesia, you will need to arrange for a ride home. You will experience some discomfort for a few days, but if you follow Dr. Fakhimi’s post-procedure instructions, you’ll heal up quickly and be able to return to your usual routines. Though each patient may have a slightly different set of instructions, the following are what you can typically expect for the first few days:
- Eat soft food – avoid anything crunchy or sharp
- Drink plenty of liquids (though not with a straw, as this can disrupt the clotting process)
- Use the gauze to address bleeding (excessive spitting can also disrupt the clotting process)
- Brush gently, and take particular care near the area of the extraction (but do not start until 24 hours after the procedure)
- Rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water every two hours and after meals (for the first week)
- Avoid smoking (which will slow your healing)
- Take any prescribed medications (usually to reduce pain and swelling) according to the exact instructions
Call Dr. Fakhimi if you have a fever or if your pain and swelling do not decrease
Your well-being is important to us. If you are experiencing doubts or anxiety about the removal of your wisdom teeth, come in and let’s talk about it. Dr. Fakhimi and the rest of our caring, professional staff are here to answer your questions and help keep you in optimum oral health.
No, when you were a kid, you may not have looked forward to the removal of your wisdom teeth. But if that is what you need now, you can rest assured that at Soft Touch Dental, you are in really good hands.