Wisdom teeth make an appearance between your late teens and mid-twenties. If a dental X-ray shows your wisdom teeth are growing in normally, you won't require any intervention. However, for many people, it's necessary to have their wisdom teeth removed due to them being what is referred to as impacted. Some people need one or two wisdom teeth removed, while others need all four removed.
What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
An impacted wisdom tooth grows at an angle either toward the molar next to it or toward the rear of your mouth. Sometimes it will try to grow horizontally along the jaw bone. Impacted wisdom teeth can damage the surrounding teeth and alter the alignment of your mouth when left in situ. They can also become painful and increase your risk of developing a dental infection or gum disease. Sometimes impacted wisdom teeth will partially erupt, and this can make them difficult to get into and clean, so there's an increased risk of developing decay in these teeth.
What's Involved In Having Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth removal is typically carried out all in one go regardless of how many you are having removed. If you are feeling particularly anxious about the procedure, your dentist can give you a sedative to take either at home or when you arrive for the extraction. Local anaesthetic is usually used for wisdom teeth removal and this will be injected around the site of the wisdom teeth. You won't feel pain during the extraction, but it's normal to feel pressure.
The dentist will then make an incision in the gum directly over the impacted tooth. The tooth may then be removed in the same way any other tooth is extracted, or if it's difficult for your dentist to get access to the tooth, they may divide it into sections and remove it this way to minimise trauma to your gum tissue. The pocket in your gum will then be cleaned and stitches will be used to close the incision site.
What Will Recovery Be Like?
You can expect some light bleeding after your procedure, and your dentist will provide you with gauze to place over the incision site when bleeding occurs. There will also be swelling and mild pain for a few days, so you may want to have some over-the-counter pain relief available. You should stick to a soft diet for a couple of days to allow the swelling to subside, and you should avoid chewing hard foods until the incision sites have healed. Most people recover with no issues, but if any signs of infection develop, such as redness or a fever, you should get in touch with your dentist right away.
If you have questions about wisdom teeth removal, speak to a dentist before scheduling the procedure.