Wisdom Teeth SurgeryProcedures related to wisdom teeth are not covered by health insurance, although your dental insurance plan may offer coverage for them. The most common procedure many people need or want for their wisdom teeth is extraction.

People may have their wisdom teeth removed when these teeth start to cause problems. The teeth can also be removed as a preventative measure to ensure problems don’t develop down the line.

What kind of problems can wisdom teeth cause?

Wisdom teeth are the four backmost molars that can end up causing trouble if they try to come in and your mouth does not have enough room to accommodate them, according to the American Dental Association’s MouthHealthy.org website. Various problems can result, including pain, infection, and damage to nearby teeth.

Your dentist may recommend their removal if your mouth area develops issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, or tumors and cysts. Wisdom teeth may also be removed if they are hindering an orthodontic or other dental treatment plan, such as getting in the way of braces.

Your wisdom teeth can also become impacted, the Mayo Clinic notes, which happens when they try to grow in but don’t have enough room. This can cause the teeth to grow in at an angle, hitting the adjacent tooth or back or sides of your mouth. It can also result in the wisdom teeth becoming painfully trapped in the jawbone.

Not everyone necessarily needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, and some people’s wisdom teeth never appear at all. If you do leave them in, it’s best to have your dentist keep an eye on them to catch any issues as early as possible.

Why would the dentist pull the teeth if they’re not causing problems?

When dentists or oral surgeons pull out wisdom teeth for preventative measures, they are lowering the odds of your wisdom teeth leading to bigger problems as you get older. Wisdom teeth first start showing up when you’re between 18 and 24 years old.

At this younger age, you are less likely to develop complications from any type of procedure than you would when you are older. Even if wisdom teeth have plenty of room to emerge, they still increase the chances of decay, gum disease, and other issues in the mouth area.

What are the risks of getting wisdom teeth removed?

Complications from wisdom teeth extractions are not common, but they can happen. A condition called dry socket can occur, which is the exposure of the jawbone where the wisdom tooth used to be.

The empty socket can also trap food and bacteria, leading to infection. Damage to the sinuses can occur with the removal of the nearby upper teeth and lower teeth removal can weaken the jawbone. An additional complication can be nerve damage that changes the sensations in your tongue, chin, or bottom lip.

What can I expect from wisdom tooth removal?

The basic procedure remains the same, although you may face variations regarding how many of the four wisdom teeth should be removed and who is going to perform the removal. If your wisdom teeth are impacted or the extraction is complex or difficult, your dentist may recommend that an oral surgeon perform the procedure. The length of the procedure and healing time depend on such factors.

The procedure basics involve the use of a local anesthesia to numb the area and, if requested or for a particularly extensive extraction, the option of sedation or general anesthesia. Once the area is numbed, your dentist first cuts the gums to expose the tooth and bone and remove any bone that may be in the way of the tooth.

He or she can then divide the tooth into sections or remove it as a whole and stitch up the wound if necessary. You get a piece of gauze in the socket area to staunch the bleeding and help the blood clot, as well as a list of suggestions.

Post-extraction suggestions typically include taking it easy for the rest of the day following the surgery and steering clear of strenuous activity for the next week or so. It may also include recommendations on the types of food and beverages you can safely eat and drink for the next day, as well as foods and beverages to avoid.

Although you may have some pain, bleeding, and bruising and swelling, your dentist may offer tips to help manage such symptoms. These include pain medication, gauze pads for bleeding, and an ice pack for the swollen and bruised area.

Additional tips may include cleaning your mouth and the area in a manner that is least like to cause problems. You may be asked to refrain from brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, or even spitting for the first day following the surgery. When you do resume brushing your teeth, make sure to treat the extraction site gently so as not to cause any additional pain or bleeding.

If you have stitches at the site, you may need a follow-up appointment to have them removed. If not, a follow-up is typically not necessary unless issues or problems develop.