Wisdom teeth are some of the most common teeth to have to be extracted. In fact, to some individuals getting them pulled is almost a “rite of passage.”
Most people begin to experience symptoms of their 3rd molars growing during their mid-teen years or by the time they graduate high school. Because they form much later in a person’s life, a set of wisdom teeth can continue growing until a person is nearly 30 years old.
Unfortunately, the location of wisdom teeth is typically the reason that they have to be removed. Because of how far back they are in the jaw, 3rd molars can lead to problems like:
- Pressure on adjacent teeth, leading to crowding throughout the mouth
- Decay or infection, which can spread to neighboring teeth
- Pain and swelling
- Cysts in the bone around the tooth
- Gum disease and decay in teeth that are difficult to treat
- Being inaccessible, making them impossible to brush or floss
- Partial eruption, causing food and plaque to accumulate just under the opening of the gums
By removing wisdom teeth, it’s possible to enhance the overall health of your mouth and avoid common complications. Rest assured, your dentist will only recommend having them extracted if he or she feels that it will benefit your general dental condition.
But how are wisdom teeth actually extracted?
Teeth that are erupted into the mouth and fairly easy to lift out of the socket are considered “simple” extractions. Like other types of tooth removal, getting these wisdom teeth pulled uses special tools to rock them gently back and forth, loosening the tiny fibers around them so that the 3rd molars can be elevated straight out of the gums in a solid piece.
Oral Surgery Under Sedation
Because of their location within the jaw, wisdom teeth often have to be segmented into smaller portions and removed one piece at a time. Although this is very common, the best way to ensure your comfort is to have an oral surgeon or anesthetist provide sedation (such as IV or oral sedation) during the procedure.
When you’re comfortable, your dentist or specialist can work more efficiently. In some cases, the wisdom tooth removal can be completed in 30 minutes or less than an hour. The sedatives, however, can take a few hours before completely wearing off.
Oral Surgery with Local Numbing and No Sedation
If you prefer to be conscious and fully aware of your surroundings during your wisdom tooth surgery, you can opt to go without the sedation and just have the area numbed with local anesthetic (which is used during sedation procedures as well.) Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” as most people know it, offers mild analgesic results without the sleepy or drowsy side-effects of more aggressive sedatives.
As long as you’re comfortable and emotionally prepared to have a minor surgery while you’re awake, then going without sedation during your wisdom tooth removal can be fine.
Any type of tooth removal can cause minor discomfort afterward. Your dentist will likely recommend an over the counter pain reliever, ice pack, and sticking to a soft diet for the first several days.
Not Removing Them at All
Not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed. If yours are coming in properly, there’s room in the jaw, and keeping them clean (daily brushing and flossing) isn’t a problem, then your dentist can — like all other teeth — monitor them during checkups to screen for any developments of disease or decay. As long as there isn’t any, the teeth can stay!
Do You Need to See a Dentist About a Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
The only way to know if you need your wisdom teeth removed and how yours will have to be extracted is to talk with your dentist. During the exam, he or she will have an X-ray taken of your teeth and jaws to determine the size, growth pattern, and any potential infections around them.
If you don’t have dental insurance and are worried about the cost of a tooth extraction or oral surgery, you may want to consider joining a dental savings plan instead. The programs like the ones at Aetna Dental Offers provide a 15-50% discount on most dental treatments and are accepted by participating dentists and specialists nationwide. Talk to a savings expert today to learn more.