All About Your Wisdom Teeth | How They Affect Your Oral Health

Posted on August 28, 2019

Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are the last of your teeth to erupt in your mouth. Unfortunately, there is normally not enough room in the mouth for the teeth to erupt naturally, which results in an impaction. Impaction occurs when the jaw doesn’t have enough room to accommodate for all the teeth growing into it. It can also occur when a tooth develops at the wrong angle, leaving it stuck underneath the gum tissue. This is the biggest reason people are told to get their wisdom teeth removed.

History of Wisdom Teeth

Centuries ago, wisdom teeth were essential for the human diet which consisted mostly of roots, leaves, raw meat and nuts. These flat teeth were needed to help grind these course and rugged foods; they were necessary for human survival.

Since larger jaws were common back then, these teeth erupted into the mouth normally. Over time as our bodies have evolved, our jaws have become much smaller. Our food can now be cooked and we have utensils to cut it into small pieces. This has made wisdom teeth become almost completely unnecessary. Because of this evolution, some people develop only a few wisdom teeth, or sometimes none at all.

When Should I Expect My Wisdom Teeth to Come In?

Most people notice their wisdom teeth coming in when they are in their mid to late teenage years (if they have any). Your general dentist can perform a simple x-ray to determine the positioning of the wisdom teeth, and evaluate what steps you should take next. Normally, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon if they believe surgery to remove them is necessary for your oral health.

Removing Wisdom Teeth

When impaction occurs, surgical removal of the wisdom teeth will most likely be recommended by your dentist or orthodontist. Even if you do have enough room in your mouth and your wisdom teeth come in straight, your dentist will likely keep a very close eye on them at each of your dental appointments. Why? These teeth are more prone to decay and gum disease because of where they are located in your mouth.

What if My Wisdom Teeth Aren’t Causing Me Any Pain?

If you have impacted wisdom teeth and they are not causing you any pain, extracting them may still be recommended due to the complications that could potentially occur in the future.

If an impacted tooth is putting pressure on the tooth in front of it, it can cause crowding of the other teeth and put the 2nd molar at an increased risk for infection. Cysts may also develop around wisdom teeth causing damage to the jawbone, teeth and nerves. It is important to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon if you have questions regarding your wisdom teeth. Remember, everyone is different!

Wisdom Teeth Removal | Oral Surgery

Wisdom tooth extraction is ideally done in your late teens to early 20’s. When you are young and healthy, there are less risks associated with the surgery and recovery time is faster. Most oral surgeons will give you the option to stay awake or be put to sleep for this procedure. If you choose to stay awake, you will be given a local anesthesia, an injection, around the area of the tooth being taken out. You may also be given the option of nitrous oxide to help you relax. If you’d prefer to be asleep, you may choose between sedation or general anesthesia. Sedation anesthesia is given intravenously and suppresses your consciousness. You will not feel pain and will not have any memory of the procedure if this is the route you decide to go.

Wisdom Teeth Recovery

After your procedure you will need to follow a few instructions to ensure your sockets do not become infected. The day of your surgery, you should plan on resting for the remainder of the day. You can resume daily activities the next day but will want to avoid any strenuous activity for about a week. Avoid brushing or using mouthwash for 24 hours after surgery. When you do resume brushing, you will want to be very gentle around your extraction sites. 

You may notice a small amount of bleeding during the day of your extraction(s). You will be given gauze to bite on until the bleeding has stopped.

How to alleviate pain:

  • Over the counter pain relievers – your doctor may prescribe you something stronger if teeth were impacted and bone had to be removed.
  • Place an ice pack on your cheeks to reduce swelling

Safe Foods to Eat After Surgery

  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies

What to Avoid After Surgery

  • Hard/Rough Foods
  • Spicy Foods
  • Carbonated Beverages (avoid the first 24 hours)
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Hot Beverages (avoid the first 24 hours)
  • Drinking/sucking through a straw – this sucking action can dislodge the blood clot from the socket creating whats called a dry socket.

Please contact your doctor is you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Trouble breathing/swallowing
  • Pus oozing from the socket
  • Pain that medication will not alleviate

Remember, people get their wisdom teeth removed every single day! Follow the above instructions, along with your doctors, and you should be back to normal in no time.

At Cardinal Orthodontics, we do not perform wisdom teeth removal. We do, however, offer free initial consults if you’re interested in learning what treatment options (braces or Invisalign) are best option for you.

We now offer FREE video exams, as well as in-person consultations. To learn more about these options, click here.

Categories: Oral Health, Orthodontic Treatment
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