Wisdom Tooth Extraction

09WisdomTeeth-sidebarAll About Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are the last teeth to come in, usually appearing between ages 17 and 25. A dentist will usually recommend extraction, a surgical procedure that removes one or more of these teeth. The procedure is a safeguard against infection and tooth decay, and can prevent problems from occurring later.

By Judith Nembhard

Why do I need my wisdom teeth out?

The third molar area is difficult to clean, and can be susceptible to gum disease. Research has shown that once gum disease occurs in the third molar area, the problem usually persists, but the condition may improve after the teeth are extracted.

Wisdom teeth that have properly erupted and are painless, cavity-free and have healthy gum tissue may not need to be extracted. However, it’s important for patients to get a professional assessment—one study found that wisdom teeth that come in normally may still be prone to disease.

What are “impacted” wisdom teeth?

Sometimes, wisdom teeth can become “impacted,” meaning they can’t break through the gum and enter the mouth because there isn’t enough room. If impacted teeth are left in your mouth, they can damage adjacent teeth or become infected. As many as nine out of 10 people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.

What do I do if I need mine removed?

If your dentist thinks you need your wisdom teeth removed, he or she will refer you to an oral surgeon, who will talk with you before the surgery and tell you what to expect.

The positioning of the wisdom tooth and its root development will determine how easy it is to remove. Most of the time, the surgery is done with little or no pain to the patient. Local, intravenous, or general anesthesia is offered. Your surgeon will recommend the right kind for you.

After the surgery, you may experience some swelling and mild discomfort. Cold compresses can help to reduce the swelling, and the surgeon can prescribe medication to help manage any pain. You may be instructed to eat a softer diet for a period of time.

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