Wisdom teeth are your third molars that usually come in when you are older (between the ages of 17 and 21). They are located in the very back of your mouth–two on the top and two on the bottom to give you a completed set of 32 adult teeth.
Purpose of Wisdom Teeth
When wisdom teeth come in normally, they help you chew course, rough foods like nuts and meats. You may feel some discomfort when they come in, but that is ok.
If they come in and there isn’t enough space for them, wisdom teeth may cause pain. This is when you should see a dentist about them.
Signs You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled
You may need your wisdom teeth pulled if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Sensitivity and pain in the back of the mouth.
- Inflammation around the gums.
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
- Painful cysts that develop in your mouth.
- Stiffness and pain in your jaw.
- Problems with your sinuses.
Consultation for Wisdom Teeth
During your consultation, Dr. Noelle will view your medical and dental history with you and ask you about any symptoms you may be experiencing. She will also examine your teeth and mouth and may order advanced 3D cone-beam imaging to get a full image of your mouth and teeth. If the images show that your wisdom teeth are crowding or damaging your other teeth, or affecting your bite, Dr. Noelle will recommend that you have them removed.
Simple Extraction of Wisdom Teeth
For wisdom teeth that have come out of your gums and are not impacted, Dr. George can perform a simple extraction of these teeth. As part of the process, she will numb your gums, loosen the teeth with a dental elevator, and pull the teeth with dental forceps. After extraction, she will clean out the area and pack it with gauze to stop the bleeding.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
When wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to come out from the gum as they should, they are considered impacted. Wisdom teeth are often impacted or pinned beneath the surface of the gums. Initially, these teeth may not cause pain, but they can cause pain or other dental problems over time.
Removal of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Dr. Noelle will perform oral surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth. She’ll give you anesthesia so that you won’t feel any discomfort. During the procedure, Dr. Noelle will cut open the gum and remove the tooth bone to get to the root. To keep the hole as small as possible, she may need to cut the tooth into pieces. After extraction, she will clean out the area and pack it with gauze to stop the bleeding.
Recovery After Oral Surgery for Impacted Wisdom Teeth
After oral surgery, you can expect that your cheeks and gums will be swollen, you may not be able to open your mouth widely, and you may have some post-operative bleeding. This is normal.
To allow for proper healing, you may need to take 3-5 days off. You can take over-the-counter medication for pain and swelling (a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen), or Dr. Noelle can prescribe pain medication for you. Additionally, you can hold a cold pack against your jaw for intermittent relief of swelling and soreness.
As a precaution, avoid spitting so as not to dislodge the blood clot forming in the socket. The longer the blood clot stays in place, the better. When the blood clot goes away too soon, you don’t have the added protection of the nerves and bone underneath. As a result, you could develop dry socket, which is very painful but treatable.
If you experience any heavy postop bleeding, call Dr. Noelle’s office right away for appropriate follow-up care.
Drinking and Eating After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Since your cheeks and gums may be swollen after oral surgery, and you may not be able to open your mouth widely, Dr. Noelle may recommend that you drink milkshakes or eat pureed foods for up to 1 week. For the first few days, you don’t want to use a straw, so you’ll have to use a spoon to “drink” your milkshake. You may also eat soft foods, as tolerated (those that won’t bother the surgical site).
You should also drink plenty of water but stay away from alcohol, hot beverages, or sodas for 48 hours.
Wisdom Teeth Removal in Clackamas, OR
Wisdom Teeth FAQs
Wisdom teeth come through at a more mature age, often between the ages of 17 and 21. That is why they call them wisdom teeth.
Since wisdom teeth are part of the jaw known as the dental alveolus, removing your wisdom teeth does not affect your jawbone, jaw shape, or face shape overall.
It can take a few months to heal after your wisdom teeth are removed. Initially, within a couple of days after oral surgery, the extraction sites should close off. Then within a couple of weeks, you’ll start to feel a smooth texture over the sockets that matches the gum tissue surrounding them. Eventually, the socket (underneath the gums) will begin to close after a few months. This is the normal healing process.
Check with your insurance provider to see if your insurance plan covers wisdom teeth removal. Some providers cover all or part of the costs. Be sure to ask if you will have any out-of-pocket expenses.
Ideally, you should get your wisdom teeth removed between the ages of 18 and the early 20s. Younger adults tend to have an easier time for recovery, and you’ll want to get them removed before they cause any problems or affect your normal bite.
Also, young adults in high school and college can get this procedure covered under their parents’ health care plan. Most health plans now cover dependent children up to age 26. Take advantage of this provision if you can.
If you delay getting your wisdom teeth removed, you may experience jaw pain, teeth crowding, sinus problems, cysts in your mouth, swollen or bleeding gums, among other symptoms. Also, a partially erupted wisdom tooth can cause an infection called pericoronitis.
In some cases where there is adequate space for the wisdom teeth and they come in properly and can be well cleaned, there isn’t anything wrong with keeping your wisdom teeth!
Dr. Noelle recommends that her patients have all four wisdom teeth removed at once. Going through only one surgery is much easier in the long-run.
As a bonus, in having them all removed at once, you will likely save money and time not having to repeat the process all over again. You won’t have to pay additional dental visits, procedures, and anesthesia costs.