What To Expect From A Wisdom Tooth Extraction

By: Zachariah Santana


Wisdom teeth grow in almost all adults though some people may have few or more of them. They're vestigial molars which we no longer use. In cases where wisdom teeth grow with no problems, it's not necessary to have them removed. However, there are numerous instances where their growth causes pain and discomfort and extraction is the only solution.

Unnecessary teeth extraction is ill advised and doctors warn that people who get them removed despite having no prior pain and discomfort are not guaranteed protection against future problems. There's a belief that early extraction can help prevent teeth crowding. This is false and unnecessary removal can leave one susceptible to infection and numbness if a nerve is damaged.

If wisdom teeth are impacted and have trouble growing straight up, dentists will recommend that they're extracted. Any prior infection will first have to clear up before the surgery is performed.

Patients will be given either a local anesthetic or general anesthetic. The second choice is recommended if two or more teeth have to be extracted. Once a patient is under anesthesia, the gum tissue is opened and any bone covering the teeth is removed. The teeth are then taken out whole or broken into pieces for easier removal. The tissue is sutured into place and a gauze with antiseptics placed over it.

Like any surgery, wisdom tooth extraction takes time to heal. Those prone to infections are given antibiotics and recovery period may be lengthened. Much depends on aftercare and the health of the patient.

Who qualifies for extraction?

To extract or not depends on several factors which dentists will look into. People with infections, cysts, awkward growth angle and smaller jaws unable to accommodate wisdom teeth are candidates. Swelling, pain and discomfort during the growth phase may also be reason to get an extraction.

Advantages of extraction

The advantages of having teeth removed are many. There's less risk of damage to other teeth and the jawbone, no pain and discomfort resulting from impacted teeth and less occurrence of swelling, ulcers and bleeding caused by impacted teeth.

Risks of extraction

Like any surgical procedure, teeth extraction has risks that although not occurring commonly, can still take place. General anesthesia increases the risk of death (the percentage is still small, however).

Damage to the nerves is a problem which may result in numbness of the tissue, paralysis around the tooth and in rare cases, paralysis of that side of the face. Bleeding and infection may also occur especially in patients with heart problems. Complications like dry socket may arise which is a condition where blood clot is partially or completely lost and the extraction wound is left exposed.

Aftercare basics

Aftercare is an important part of wisdom teeth extraction. Bleeding should ideally stop 24 hours after surgery and in instances where it continues, a call to the dentist will help. Bleeding time itself can be shortened by propping the head on pillows and avoiding lying flat.

Like all post-surgical procedures, patients are advised rest and no physical activity for several days. Sudden and heavy motions can cause blood clots to loosen and start bleeding. Infections may also develop.

Tobacco consumption, hot and cold food and drinks and touching the site with the tongue and the fingers should be avoided. An ice pack or warm compression can be applied to the jaw to reduce swelling and ease pain.

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