Wisdom Teeth

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Discover what wisdom teeth are, how you can tell if they are coming in, and what to do if they cause pain or discomfort in your mouth or damage to other teeth. 

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are a set of teeth that grow in the back of your mouth. Despite the name, they don’t give you wisdom, usually just a bit of discomfort. The reason wisdom teeth end up being a problem is that they often grow sideways or crooked. This can be a big problem for your teeth since wisdom teeth coming in sideways will push other teeth out of place, causing overcrowding and misalignment. 

Recognizing Symptoms of Incoming Wisdom Teeth

The symptoms of Wisdom teeth growing in can be different for everyone. They can range from being extremely painful to hardly noticeable. It all depends on your wisdom teeth, whether they are unobstructed, impacted, coming in sideways, or pushing against other teeth.

Common Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Include:

  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Jaw aches
  • Stiffness of the jaw
  • Gum pain
  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

Treatment for Impacted or Painful Wisdom Teeth

Most cases of painful or impacted wisdom teeth are treated by extracting them. Sometimes, wisdom teeth come in with no issues that can go untreated. However, if you have problems with your wisdom teeth, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. 

The treatment begins with either local or general anesthesia based on the case. Everyone’s extraction will be different simply because some are more complicated than others. If your wisdom teeth have started to erupt through your gums, it will be much easier and less complex to extract them, given that they can be seen. On the other hand, if your wisdom teeth are impacted, it can be a lot more complex for your oral surgeon. 

To remove your wisdom teeth, your oral surgeon will make an incision on the surface of your gum above the tooth. Once there is a hole cut above the tooth, the surgeon will extract the wisdom tooth. In more complex cases, extraction won’t happen as quickly. In some cases, the surgeon will have to cut the tooth into a few smaller pieces. This is to get the tooth out without unnecessarily cutting into bone or risking damaging nerve tissue. Since the surgery has such a high success rate, your dentist may even recommend that you have your wisdom teeth removed even before they start hurting or become impacted, infected, or a problem in any way.

After wisdom teeth extraction surgery 

We’ve all seen viral videos of people still under anesthesia after wisdom teeth surgery saying odd or amusing things. That’s just the anesthesia wearing off, which is a good reminder not to drive yourself to your wisdom teeth extraction procedure. Make sure to have a ride home after your procedure because you will not be in a safe state to drive. 

After surgery, you will only be able to eat soft foods. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking. These activities can lead to more pain and complications like dry sockets. You may want to get milkshakes or smoothies, but if you do, eat it with a spoon, have it mixed thinner and drink it without the use of a straw. Using a straw can cause more problems then you think because of the suction created by the straw; if you suck too hard you could actually rip your stitches open or create a dry socket. 

Long-term recovery after wisdom teeth removal

In most cases, people recover from wisdom teeth surgery in just 3-4 days. If your teeth were impacted, it could take anywhere from 1-3 weeks. The incision from wisdom teeth extraction surgery will not completely heal for a few months, so you still have to be cognizant of that as it could re-open or develop an infection. Take care of your dental hygiene and be aware of any signs of trouble.

The day after surgery, you can go back to doing most of your normal daily activities, but there will be a few activities you can not resume to ensure your stitches don’t get dislodged. 

These Activities Include: 

  • strenuous exercise
  • smoking
  • spitting
  • drinking from a straw

At Home Recovery after wisdom teeth surgery

When recovering at home, you’ll need to make sure to take good care of your mouth since you will be susceptible to getting an infection. Your dentist will give you an instruction sheet that includes proper cleaning and oral care and what activities to avoid to prevent any possible infection in your mouth after surgery. 

Rinsing with salt water is an excellent way to clean your mouth after surgery. You will be advised not to brush your teeth the day after surgery since brushing could dislodge or irritate the stitches and incision sites. It’s important not to forcefully spit the salt water out of your mouth when doing your rinse. Just lean over and let gravity take over. It’s important to allow the rinse to fall out of your mouth rather than spitting so that no pressure or movement affects your swollen, stitched incision sites. If you have excess bleeding, use gauze to dab the wounded area softly. If you have any problems, reach out to your dentist, they will be more than happy to see how you are recovering and help with any concerns. If you feel like its an emergency after hours or over a weekend don’t hesitate to reach out.