Wisdom tooth removal involves a surgical procedure to remove one or more of your wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth, commonly referred to as third molars, often grow between the ages of 17 and 25. There are many people who never develop them. For others, these teeth erupt normally and cause no problems. But some people need to have them removed for a variety of reasons.
What to expect
Many people usually develop impacted wisdom teeth. These are teeth that do not have enough room to develop normally or erupt into the mouth. An impacted wisdom tooth may grow in at the wrong angle. Sometimes, it may grow straight up or down just like the other teeth, but it can be trapped in the jawbone.
A dentist may recommend taking impacted wisdom teeth out. This may happen if they result in problems such as gum disease, infection, pain and trapping food and debris. Wisdom tooth removal is also an option if there is evidence of changes in the mouth such as cysts and damage to the neighboring teeth. Here is what to expect before and during surgery.
Before wisdom tooth removal surgery
A patient will meet with the dentist to talk about the process. At this appointment, the patient should ask questions about the surgery. Any drugs the patient takes on a regular basis should be listed and the dentist should be informed of any health problems the patient has. Discussing anesthesia options is encouraged. Patients are usually advised to take time off school or work to have surgery and to rest afterward. If needed the patient should set up pet care, childcare or a ride home.
During the procedure, the dentist may use local anesthesia, IV sedation or general anesthesia so the patient does not feel pain during the extraction. For local anesthesia, the doctor will numb the mouth with a shot of local anesthetic. A patient may also breathe laughing gas or nitrous oxide, to relax or doze during surgery.
For IV sedation, the dentist will numb the mouth. The patient will be given drugs through a vein in the arm. This will make the person drowsy. The patient may sleep during the whole procedure. When it comes to general anesthesia, the patient will either breathe the gas in through a mask or get drugs through the vein. The patient will be asleep the whole time and wake up after the surgery.
A dentist may have to cut the bone or gums to get the teeth out. The dentist will then stitch the wounds shut, which will allow them to heal quickly. The stitches often dissolve after a couple of days. The dentist may also stuff gauze pads in a patient’s mouth. This will help soak up some of the blood.
Wisdom tooth removal is usually necessary when there is evidence of risk of impacted teeth or infection, cysts or healthy teeth next to wisdom teeth could be damaged. Extracting wisdom teeth reduces the risk of future problems. If you are thinking of getting your wisdom teeth removed, make sure you prepare for the procedure. Talk to your dentist about getting an extraction, find out if you are a candidate and have a conversation about any concerns you may have.
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