Impacted Wisdom Teeth Extraction
The thought of getting your wisdom teeth removed might make you nervous, and maybe you’re not sure if the procedure is really necessary. This list includes common questions about wisdom tooth removal so you can learn more about how it works and whether you need it.
In most cases, wisdom teeth or the third set of molars eventually will require removal usually due to tooth crowding. This is especially true in the case where wisdom teeth are impacted or when they erupt at an angle or only partially. Ultimately, wisdom teeth that are trapped within the gums may eventually result in serious dental health-related problems. This can include everything from damaged surrounding teeth to infection and pain. Fortunately, oral surgery and the extraction techniques associated with impacted wisdom teeth removal can produce remarkable results for patients in today’s modern world of dentistry.
Does the area around the teeth get always inflamed? Or maybe your dentist told you that you need them out. You may want to consider having your wisdom teeth removed. But before you do, these are your teeth, and you can’t get them back. Wisdom tooth extraction is a significant commitment. And there may be some cost and wisdom tooth pain involved. So let’s take a closer look at this procedure and when you should consider having wisdom teeth removed.
What is a Wisdom Tooth?
From a diagnostic perspective, the wisdom teeth are in most cases the last teeth to erupt. This usually occurs at around the age of 17 to 25. The American Dental Association reports that wisdom teeth sometimes emerge sideways or only partially. In other cases, the third set of molars may remain completely trapped inside the gums and bone of the patient’s jaw. While there are cases where no signs or symptoms are associated with impacted wisdom teeth, there are other cases where the signs and symptoms are rather obvious. For example, an impacted wisdom tooth or multiple impacted wisdom teeth may be indicated by pain, swelling, red and tender gums or teeth that bleed.
The wisdom teeth are our 3rd molars, the flat teeth in the back that we use to crush fibrous foods like celery. You can think of the molars as the teeth you use to gnaw on food. We typically have two on the top and two on the bottom. While we get our permanent 1st and 2nd molars around 10-12 years old, the wisdom teeth can fail to appear until we are “old and wise” at around age 18.
Getting your wisdom teeth is a normal milestone of life. But in some people, there is not enough room in the mouth for the teeth which are arriving “so late to the party.” The teeth can become impacted (blocked) by the teeth that are already there. Your other teeth, who were so accustomed to having all of this extra room, may have come in at a bit of an angle. Or you may just have a smaller than average mouth with larger than average teeth. Our genes can do funny things sometimes. This may lead to wisdom tooth pain and call for a wisdom tooth extraction.
What Is an Impacted Tooth?
When your tooth is impacted, it doesn’t go through the gum or only part of the tooth breaks the surface. This means that the tooth is stuck beneath the surface instead of coming out as a normal tooth would. It’s actually a very common dental problem to have. In fact, 90 percent of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Why does this happen? It can be a lack of room for the tooth to fit into or because the tooth is facing in the wrong direction to push straight up through the gum.
How Common is Wisdom Tooth Extraction
According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, 10 million 3rd molars, which we have so affectionately named “wisdom teeth,” are extracted from around 5 million people each year. The annual cost is over $3 million. This is in addition to lost work hours, reduced productivity and so on due to pain, swelling and discomfort after the procedure. And 2/3 of these procedures were found to be unnecessary. Ouch!
In the U.S., the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommend wisdom tooth extraction if there is not sufficient room for them in the mouth. But it was found that 50% of the upper 3rd molars classified as impacted (blocked/insufficient room) were typically developing teeth.
So, when you are considering removing these teeth, you want to make sure you are consulting a trusted and experienced professional and that you, yourself, know how to recognize teeth that need to be removed.
The oral surgeon will usually identify impacted wisdom teeth when finding swollen gums or signs of infection. Anytime there is tenderness, redness or drainage there may be clear concern that wisdom teeth have become impacted. In most cases, dental x-rays will confirm the dentist’s suspicion that there may be impacted wisdom teeth at hand. X-rays are also useful in detecting damage to other teeth or the jawbone when wisdom teeth have become impacted. X-rays are quite helpful because they show the precise position of wisdom teeth within the patient’s jaw.
Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Necessary?
In some cases, it’s okay to keep the wisdom teeth. This is when they do not cause you pain and they stay clean and free of cavities and other problems. They also need to not affect the healthy teeth next to them. However, wisdom teeth often cause damage to other teeth and they tend to invite problems. Impacted wisdom teeth and even ones that emerge normally can often develop cavities, gum disease, cysts, and other problems. When you keep them, it’s important to maintain their cleanliness and have them checked regularly at the dentist’s office to make sure they’re not causing dental concerns. Dental professionals may recommend removing them even if they’re not currently a problem to prevent issues from developing later.
Why Can’t Wisdom Teeth Fit in the Mouth?
It might seem weird that people develop teeth that can’t fit in the mouth. But the jaw doesn’t tend to grow large enough for the wisdom teeth to fit. Earlier humans actually had enough room in their mouths for the wisdom teeth to come in properly. That’s because they ate a different diet than we do now. In the past, they took in more vitamin K2, which you can find in organ meat and grass-fed animal products. The typical American diet tends to avoid organ meat and includes grain- and corn-fed animal products. Vitamin K2 helps the jaw bone develop, and the modern lack of it tends to create a smaller jaw. Plus, when we are young and our jaws are developing, we do not use them in the same way as in the past. For example, using sippy cups and eating mostly soft foods can affect development.
What are the signs that you may need a wisdom tooth extraction?
1. Sometimes you won’t know – it’s important to understand that you can’t always tell as the person with the teeth if your teeth need to be extracted. This is where working with a trusted professional comes in. But there are some signs that you may need your wisdom teeth removed that you can clearly see and feel.
2. Damage to the other teeth – As the wisdom tooth emerges, it can put pressure on the other teeth to get out of its way. This typically causes pain. If you ever had braces and felt the soreness caused when your teeth were slowly forced to move, then you will probably recognize this wisdom tooth pain instantly.
3. Bite problems – When something is not right in our bodies, our bodies try to adapt. But this can often be at a price. Misalignment caused by wisdom teeth can cause difficulty chewing and even jaw pain and joint erosion over time as the jaw cannot close correctly.
4. Cysts – A cyst is a membranous sac containing fluid that is often infected. These cysts are most commonly caused by the complicated nature of cleaning the backs of our mouths. If left untreated this infection can spread into the jaw and damage your nerves. This damage is irreversible.
5. Sinus Pain – Though it may seem unrelated, the sinuses can be impacted. The sinuses are sacs located on either side of our nose between our eyes and mouth and above our eyes. They have a few functions. 1) to lighten our skull because they are hollow 2) to produce mucus to help lubricate our nose so that we can remove contaminants 3) They affect the depth of our voice, which is why you think you sound funny when you have a sinus infection. And you probably do. Because these organs are so closely linked to the mouth, any inflammation, infection or pain in the mouth can resonate and spread into the sinuses.
6. Inflamed gums – Again because it is harder to reach the back of your mouth, the gums in the back can become inflamed and very painful. This makes it even harder to clean back there because floss won’t fit comfortably between your teeth, your gums may bleed profusely. And the entire area is horribly tender, leading many just to give up, which only makes matters worse.
7. Cavities – While perhaps not an indicator alone, the inflamed gums will create pockets of swollen flesh between your teeth, which are nearly impossible to clean and harbor the bacteria that cause cavities.
8. Bad odor (even after brushing) – Bacteria smell terrible. If you have a severe infection back there, it probably feels awful. Yes, others can probably smell it too. So don’t delay. If your mouth smells or tastes bacterial, wisdom tooth extraction may resolve it.
Also, any time a patient experiences swelling around their jaw or chronic bad breath, this may be an indicator that there is a problem with the wisdom teeth. An unpleasant taste in the mouth may also signify those wisdom teeth are not performing in a healthy or normal way. Also associated with impacted wisdom teeth includes jaw aches or persistent headaches. Occasionally even difficulty associated with opening the mouth or swollen lymph nodes in the neck may signify that the wisdom teeth are impacted or erupting abnormally. All of these cases are best handled by meeting with your dental care provider to determine exactly what is happening.
9. Misalignment Prevention – If you have invested thousands in straightening your teeth before the 3rd molars come in, then the growth of your third molar might cause your teeth.
What to Ask Your Dental Care Professional
1. What do you think? If you suspect that your wisdom teeth may need to be removed, it is important to allow a trusted provider of care to reach this conclusion. Explain the symptoms that you are experiencing and allow a thorough examination of your mouth and the surrounding area (jaw, sinuses, etc.). It is best if you not suggest the removal. Since it is such a common and for the most part simple procedure, some providers may move forward if the symptoms are borderline just because you mentioned it. And you don’t want to endure wisdom tooth pain, expense and lost work days unnecessarily.
2. Why are you recommending removal? If the dental care professional suggests that you need them removed, ask why? Consider the above reasons. Does it make sense to you? While your doctor is an expert, he or she should be able to explain to you why you need a medical procedure in terms you can clearly understand. If you do not know, ask for clarifications. If the medical provider acts offended or condescending, you may want to go somewhere else. Your doctor should always treat you with respect and care.
3. Might more conservative measures solve the problem? If the need for removal is hygiene related then, developing better brushing and flossing habits and using a recommended mouthwash may correct the problem. But beware. Left untreated, you can have serious lifelong complications. This in one reason that many doctors recommend removal. They know that some of us are “set in our ways” and developing new habits is hard. You know yourself better than anyone. If you are aware that you can change now that you better understand how not brushing and flossing in the back of the mouth can cause very serious dental, sinus and jaw problems, then you can ask if you can still save those teeth. Otherwise, you are much better off allowing extraction.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Without Pain
When you go in for the procedure, the doctor will use one or a combination of the following options to reduce or eliminate pain.
- Local anesthesia – a numbing medication, injected into the nerve to block pain
- Conscious sedation – typically a combination of oral drugs that make you very, very sleepy.
- Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) – oxygen, nitrous oxide gas mixture that makes you very relaxed.
- IV sedation – an oral painkiller followed by partial sedation with an IV, so that you can respond to the Doctor, but will not feel pain or remember the procedure after.
- General anesthesia – a combo of oral and IV that will lead to complete unconsciousness.
If you and your doctor determine that you need your teeth removed, you should know that the science of working on and extracting teeth has changed dramatically over just a few years. Anesthetic application procedures have been researched extensively to develop best practices to reduce or eliminate pain. Many find the most painful wisdom tooth pain before the procedure as the inflammation and tooth crowding causes significant discomfort. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should consult a trusted professional.
Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth Pain Really That Serious?
It might seem like impacted wisdom teeth are not a big deal, but they can cause many problems with your dental health and your overall health. When the mouth doesn’t have enough room for them or they are coming in at an angle, they can push on your other teeth and cause a problem with your normal bite. They may also increase your risk of gum disease and infection. Further, it’s possible for bacteria in the mouth to spread through the bloodstream and potentially encourage infections and other problems in your organs, including the heart. Since they can cause problems, wisdom teeth generally need to be removed at some point. When the surgery is not done soon enough and they have the chance to grow roots, the procedure becomes more serious.
What Should I Ask During My Wisdom Tooth Consultation With the Surgeon?
It’s smart to talk to your surgeon about the wisdom tooth removal process before you have it done. This gives you a chance to learn more and decide with the dentist whether removal is right for you. Ask your dentist about whether it would be okay to leave the wisdom teeth in. You may not need all of the wisdom teeth removed, so ask how many the dentist would take out. There are different types of anesthesia, so talk about them and discuss which type would be best for you. Also, ask about risks of the surgery, along with possible complications and how difficult your case is compared to others. Finally, ask about what you could expect after the surgery, such as how it will affect your face and your ability to get back to your normal life. Of course, ask any questions that are on your mind as well.
It should be pointed out that there are some cases where impacted wisdom teeth do not require removal. That said more cases than not are typically symptomatic of requiring surgical extraction by a dentist or oral surgeon. This kind of oral surgery is usually done in an outpatient setting. In most cases, local or general anesthesia is used for this type of surgery. The procedure itself involves the surgeon making a small incision in the gums as well as in any bone that may be blocking the impacted tooth. Once the procedure has been completed the incision is stitched closed, and the empty tooth socket is then protected with gauze pads to control bleeding.
Take The Tooth Out In A Series Of Pieces
As a note, there are some cases where an impacted tooth may be too large to extract in one complete piece. When this is the case especially where a tooth is coming in at an angle, the surgeon may choose to cut the tooth into smaller pieces using a drill or other similar device. This results in lessened trauma for the patient while allowing the surgeon to take the tooth out in a series of pieces. The goal is to always make the patient as comfortable as possible while ensuring the safest and fastest surgical procedure.
Complications Are Rare
Following surgery, patients are sent home with a list of instructions and modifications to diet intended to promote a rapid and healthy recovery. Patients are also instructed on how to deal with postsurgical pain and swelling that is often associated with impacted wisdom tooth surgery. While complications are rare, this type of surgery may cause temporary nerve damage while permanent nerve damage is a rather rare event. Other minor complications can include infection of the tooth or gum due to trapped food or bacteria. Your dental care provider will monitor your progress closely to ensure that no complications do develop.
Are There Consequences If I Keep My Wisdom Teeth?
Keeping wisdom teeth can potentially lead to numerous dental problems. One of the main reasons dentists tend to remove them is because they often cause damage to healthy, normal teeth next to them. That’s because they can crowd and/or come in at an angle, pushing the other teeth and affecting your normal jaw bite. Another major problem is that an area next to them can develop that catches food and leads to dental issues like infections and tooth decay. Further, when wisdom teeth don’t emerge through the gum’s surface, there is the potential for cancer to develop in the lining of the tooth.
Risks Associated With Non-Removable Of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
As a final note, there are some cases where anesthesia may cause a patient to become nauseous. While most patients handle anesthesia quite well, it should be understood that sometimes people have adverse reactions to anesthesia. Fortunately, there are several options for anesthesia and sedation that can be considered when having this type of surgery performed. Talking with your dental care provider is the best way to make a good determination in this regard. Patients should keep in mind that there are also risks associated with the non-removal of impacted wisdom teeth. Schedule an appointment with your dental care provider if you believe that you may have an impacted wisdom tooth.
Is There an Ideal Time for Removing Wisdom Teeth?
Yes, there are best times for taking out your wisdom teeth. Ultimately, the surgery is easier to perform before the root of the wisdom tooth is able to form completely. When you only have the crown of the tooth with some of the roots, the surgery will be easier and you can expect less time to recover after the surgery. While it’s not as essential, it can be a good idea to get this surgery during your summer vacation from school. You’ll find it easier to go through the surgery and recovery time when it’s not interfering with school and you can rest at home.
How Long Will My Recovery Time Take After Wisdom Tooth Removal?
You’ll probably need about three days to recover from the surgery, although the recovery time can vary from person to person. When the teeth are not impacted and the surgery goes smoothly, recovery time can sometimes last only two days. Recovery tends to be faster with local anesthesia or nitrous rather than general anesthesia. Also, your care after surgery can affect your recovery time. Only eating sweet foods like ice cream can actually slow your recovery, whereas following the surgeon’s recommendations for preventing a dry socket can make recovery quicker.
What Should I Expect For the Day After Surgery?
Since this type of surgery is an outpatient procedure, you’ll be back at home during the same day you have it performed. Once the surgery is finished, you’ll start the recovery process. You’ll probably have some discomfort, pain, bleeding and swelling in your mouth, and you’ll need to follow certain precautions to encourage the healing process. You should not eat any solid foods for the first day after surgery. Your dentist can give you recommendations of what to eat right after and in the following days. Your dentist will recommend ways to relieve your discomforts such as using a cold compress and taking prescription medication and may have recommendations on the activities you should avoid and the steps you should take for the days following surgery.
Who Should Do Wisdom Tooth Removal Surgery?
It’s best to have a specialist perform this surgery rather than a general dentist unless the general dentist has extensive experience with wisdom tooth removal. The preferable specialist to see is an oral surgeon. This type of surgeon is experienced in routinely handling wisdom tooth removal and the various complications that can happen. In fact, an expert can reduce the risk of complications. When you make sure that your chosen specialist has routine experience with wisdom tooth removal surgery, also check whether he or she will use a handpiece specifically designed for use with oral surgery. You don’t want them to use the drills associated with general dentistry because they can lead to the complication of an air embolism when used to remove wisdom teeth.
How Can I Prepare for Wisdom Tooth Removal Surgery?
Before the surgery, you should prepare by not filling your stomach on food before having nitrous or going under anesthesia, or have just a light meal before having local anesthesia. Plan to have another person drive you home after the surgery. Also, it’s a good idea to ask the specialist some questions related to your surgery. Ask whether you should avoid over-the-counter or prescription drugs in advance. If you’re older than 25, ask about a bone graft, which adds to the bone tissue taken away with the surgery. This can be a good idea to prevent sensitivity from happening to the tooth next to the wisdom tooth.
Will I Get Anesthesia?
Yes, wisdom tooth removal is a procedure that requires anesthesia. Nonetheless, there are different kinds of anesthesia that can be used. You might have general anesthesia, which is where you are put under during the procedure and are not aware of it. Another common option is local anesthesia, which is injected around the wisdom tooth; you stay awake and aware of this type of anesthesia. The other options are sedation anesthesia, where you are not aware and not likely to remember, and nitrous oxide mixed with local anesthesia, which can help with anxiety and brings a quicker recovery from the anesthesia. You and your dental specialist can talk about which type of anesthesia would be right for you and your dental situation.
Why Should I Trust Omega Dental?
Omega Dental provides oral surgery specialists in midtown Houston, which is the type of specialist that is recommended for a safe wisdom tooth removal. These specialty dentists have the needed expertise and experience with this procedure and with sedation. With a team of dental specialists under one roof at this office, patients can take care of their different dental needs in the same familiar environment. Omega Dental Specialists team is dedicated to providing high-level care with the latest technologies to improve the experience. Its dental specialists care about the overall health of your family. They are happy to provide a consultation to help you feel comfortable about your wisdom tooth removal. During the procedure, the team focuses on creating a calm and comfortable experience to ease the process for you.
How Much Does Wisdom Tooth Extraction Cost?
Omega Dental Specialists provides an affordable pricing plan for removing wisdom teeth. The cost can vary by the number of teeth need to be removed, the type of anesthesia you use and other factors, so ask a representative about the cost. Your dental insurance plan may cover this surgery, although whether it is covered or the entire amount is covered varies by the plan and carrier. Whether or not the procedure is deemed medically necessary in your case can also affect coverage. Omega Dental Specialists takes most dental insurance options. They can help you determine if they accept your insurance plan and if it will cover the cost. If you do not have coverage or it won’t cover the full cost, Omega Dental Specialists also offers financing with payment plans to make the cost of surgery easier to manage.
Can I Get Financing for Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
Yes, Omega Dental Specialists offers financing for the removal of wisdom teeth. The office provides financing, which gives the option to create a payment plan to pay for the cost of the surgery over time. If you apply and participate, you would pay a monthly amount with low, fixed rates. You have about four to six weeks before you need to pay the first payment, and you can choose from terms of up to 60 months. Omega Dental Specialists can answer any questions you have about its payment plans. If you don’t have health insurance or your plan won’t cover the whole cost of the wisdom tooth removal surgery, a payment plan can make it easier to fit the cost into your budget.