Healthy, well-aligned wisdom teeth used to be a vital part of every person’s equipment for chewing course, hard foods like wild grains and roots. With the advent of modern agriculture, though, this last set of molars is pretty unnecessary for most people, and unfortunately, they frequently cause more problems than they solve. For most people, these teeth remain safely buried under the gums until they’re in their late teens or early twenties, and that’s when the trouble sets in. Since the human jaw has gradually become smaller over the years, wisdom teeth frequently become impacted, which means that their path is blocked by the teeth around them. In some cases, they erupt partially, which allows trapped food to become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria.
Fortunately, these common problems also have a solution. Gallardo and Lamas Periodontics and Implant Dentistry offers routine and effective wisdom teeth removal in Miami.
Consultation and Procedure
Before your wisdom teeth are removed, you’ll go through a consultation and examination to determine the proper course of treatment. Fully-erupted wisdom teeth can be simply extracted like any other tooth, but in many cases, they will be only partially or not at all erupted, so the procedure will need to be more intensive.
In most situations where the tooth has not erupted completely, the extraction will be performed under IV sedation or using a local anesthetic with a sedative to keep you relaxed and comfortable. An incision will be made in the gum over the tooth, and a portion of the bone that covers the impacted wisdom tooth will be removed to allow access. The tooth will be removed in sections if necessary to minimize the disturbance to your jawbone. The procedure will then be repeated as necessary for your other wisdom teeth.
When should I remove my wisdom teeth?
In most cases, wisdom teeth removal becomes necessary due to impaction. Lack of space prevents them from fully entering the mouth, leading to infections, damage to surrounding teeth and bone, pain, and in some cases even tumors or cysts. Even in cases when they do erupt partially or fully, the crowding caused by these unnecessary third molars often leads to infections. These problems are so common that over 85% of adults eventually need to have their wisdom teeth removed.
Generally speaking, the most common complication of wisdom teeth extraction is dry socket, which happens in up to 10% of cases. It normally occurs in the lower jaw when a blood clot either falls out or fails to form. This is characterized by increased pain 3-4 days after the procedure and requires medication to be placed in the socket. At Gallardo and Lamas, we take an extra step to improve the healing process by using growth factor protein from the patient’s own plasma to prevent dry socket.
Less common complications include paresthesia, or damaged nerves causing numbness in the lower jaw, as well as swelling and sharp edges on the remaining bone.
Q. Should I wait to have my wisdom teeth removed?
In most cases, it’s best to schedule an examination as soon as you suspect that there might be a problem. Wisdom teeth extraction has significantly more complications when performed on older patients, so it’s beneficial to have it done as early as possibly.
Q. How do I know if my wisdom teeth are impacted?
For most patients, the primary symptom is pain, which can be quite severe. The pain may extend to the inner cheek if the cusps of the impacted teeth dig into the cheeks. Your gum may swell, and it might be difficult to open your mouth. In some cases, you’ll also have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth from an accompanying infection.
Q. What is recovery like?
The bulk of the recovery is normally over within a week, although your jaw will not be fully healed for at least 3-4 weeks. You will experience some bleeding for the first day or so, but some gauze or a teabag over the extraction site can help to minimize this. There will also be swelling and some discomfort, although you will be prescribed painkillers. In order to minimize complications, you’ll need to stick to a soft diet for several days and rinse the socket with warm saltwater daily for up to a week.
Can wisdom teeth regrow after they’re removed?
No, wisdom teeth removal is permanent. There are cases of patients with paramolars, which are essentially a second set of wisdom teeth that existed behind the first set and moved in once the first set was removed, but this is extremely rare.
Do I need to have all of my wisdom teeth removed if only one is impacted?
It’s certainly possible to only remove one or two wisdom teeth during the procedure, but most patients will be best served by having all of them removed at the same time since it’s so likely that they will cause problems later.