WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?
Early humans didn't have luxuries like grocery stores, kitchens, or eating utensils (knives, forks), so they had to eat whatever was available, even if it was tough or uncooked. This made the late development of the third molars very useful, which fit nicely in their wider jaw. Modern humans have evolved to have a slimmer jaw, but we still get our third molars, which are no longer necessary and usually don't fit. More commonly known as the wisdom teeth, the third molars typically need to be removed to avoid problems, like pain, impaction, and infection. Our experienced team at DentalWorks - High Point offers surgical wisdom tooth extraction for High Point, NC patients of all ages. Using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, we help patients determine if and when they need wisdom tooth removal, which we perform with modern techniques for a faster recovery. Read on to learn more about wisdom teeth extraction before you contact our office in High Point, NC to schedule a consultation for yourself or your family.
WHEN DO WISDOM TEETH DEVELOP?
The third molars are the last teeth to develop, usually when a person is about seven years old. However, the wisdom teeth don't actually appear until a person's late teens or early twenties. By comparison, the rest of your permanent (adult) teeth start to emerge when a person is about 6 years old and are fully developed by the age of 13 years old. While it's rare, some people don't develop all four wisdom teeth, and even rarer, a few lucky people never develop these third molars.
DO MY WISDOM TEETH NEED TO BE REMOVED?
Since the modern human jaw is slimmer and our diet is less abrasive on our teeth, there is typically not enough room for the third molars when they are ready to erupt from the gumline. In most cases, if the wisdom teeth are not extracted by a dentist, they can become impacted. An impacted tooth is unable to properly erupt from the gums so it may lead to an infection known as pericoronitis. Symptoms of an infected, impacted tooth include swelling of the gums above the tooth, pain in your nearby teeth or ear, trouble chewing or opening your mouth, as well as persistent bad breath. While most people will need to get their wisdom teeth removed to prevent an infection or impaction, some people are able to keep their wisdom teeth. The decision to extract or keep your wisdom teeth should be made with your dentist.
WHEN SHOULD I GET MY WISDOM TEETH REMOVED?
Preferably patients should get their wisdom teeth removed before they are 20 years old. After this, the wisdom teeth have stronger roots and are more difficult to remove. While not everyone will need to get their wisdom teeth extracted, if you do, it's better to do it when you're younger. The extraction procedure is more difficult and the recovery usually takes longer in older patients. Hopefully, you are visiting your dentist in High Point, NC for annual oral health examinations with digital x-rays so they can monitor the development of your third molars and schedule an extraction as soon as it is needed. If you are not visiting a dentist regularly, schedule an appointment if your teeth are shifting out of place, you have pain and swelling in your back molars, or a feeling of pressure in your jaw. These are signs that your wisdom teeth are trying to erupt and only your dentist will be able to determine if they need to be removed to prevent an impaction or infection.
HOW ARE WISDOM TEETH REMOVED?
The wisdom teeth are removed with a tooth extraction procedure if the teeth have not fully erupted from the gumline. In your consultation, your dentist will discuss your sedation options based on your procedure and comfort level. Most patients are given intravenous (IV) sedation so they are asleep during the process, but others may receive a combination of local anesthesia to numb the gums plus nitrous oxide gas or oral-conscious medication. Whatever sedation is used, your team will make sure you are comfortable before the procedure begins. To reach the tooth, your dentist will make a small incision in the gums above the third molars. The tooth will be removed with special tools and then the area will be cleaned before the incision is closed with stitches. The process is repeated until all four wisdom teeth are removed.
WHAT'S THE RECOVERY LIKE AFTER WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTION?
During your initial consultation, your dentist should talk about what to expect both during and after your wisdom tooth extraction. It's important to understand and follow your dentist's aftercare instructions to avoid complications like an infection or dry socket. Depending on the type of anesthesia administered, you will probably need to have someone drive you home from your appointment. You should plan to rest for at least the rest of the day, but a few days is usually recommended. Most patients prefer to follow a soft food or liquid diet after their wisdom tooth extraction. It's important not to use a straw, smoke, chew tobacco, or spit to avoid dislodging the blood clot that forms at the incision site. You should rinse out|] your mouth with warm saltwater for the first day or two before you get back to gently brushing your teeth. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics or pain relievers to help you heal after surgery. After a few days, your mouth should look and feel much better, so contact your dentist if you have a fever, inflammation, pain, pus in the wound, or other concerns.
CAN WISDOM TEETH GROW BACK AFTER EXTRACTION?
Once your wisdom teeth are removed, they will not grow back. However, in a very small percentage of the population, there is a fourth set of molars that can erupt. Also known as supernumerary teeth, these extra teeth develop in about 1 – 2 percent of people. If you do have extra molars or teeth, your dentist should be able to see these with digital x-rays at your annual oral health examination. Depending on where the extra teeth develop, your dentist may recommend an extraction.