Wisdom Teeth

Single portrait of smiling confident male student teenager looking at camera in library

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. 

Table of Contents

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 they 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.

What are the 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 teeth, whether they are unobstructed, impacted, coming in sideways, or pushing against other teeth.

Common Symptoms of Include:

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

What is the Treatment for Impacted or Painful Wisdom Teeth?

Most cases of painful or impacted wisdom teeth are treated by extracting them. Sometimes, they 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 them, 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 them removed even before they start hurting or become impacted, infected, or a problem in any way.

What to Do 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. 

How to Manage Long-term Recovery After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

In most cases, people recover from wisdom teeth surgery in 3-4 days. If your teeth were impacted, however, it could take anywhere from 1-3 weeks. The incision from the 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

What to Do for 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. 

Wisdom Teeth FAQs

The final set of teeth that erupt in the back of the mouth are wisdom teeth, also referred to as third molars. They usually begin to develop between the ages of 17 and 25, but if there isn’t enough room for them to expand properly, they may cause issues. Many patients require the removal of their wisdom teeth in order to avoid problems including infection, decay, and tooth misalignment.

The average individual typically has four wisdom teeth, with one located in each quadrant of the mouth. However, some people may have fewer than four, some may have more than four, and some people might not even have them at all. A person’s wisdom tooth count might differ depending on things including genetics, race, and environment.

Although not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, many people frequently undergo this treatment. Wisdom teeth can occasionally result in issues like:

  1. Crowding: Wisdom teeth can cause crowding and biting issues by pushing nearby teeth out of alignment.
  2. Impaction: The teeth may become impacted, which means they are caught below the gum line and are unable to fully erupt, if there is not enough room for them to do so.
  3. Infection: Partial eruption of wisdom teeth might leave a space for bacteria to penetrate and lead to an infection.

These factors lead many dentists to advise getting rid of them before they cause issues. If you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, your dentist or oral surgeon can help.

The experience of having your wisdom teeth removed can vary from person to person, but thanks to contemporary technology and anaesthetic, the majority of people don’t feel much discomfort at all. The area around the teeth is normally numbed with local anaesthetic, although in some circumstances, conscious sedation or general anesthesia may be given to help patients unwind or go asleep during the treatment.

Following the treatment, it’s typical to feel uncomfortable, swollen, and bleed a little bit for a few days. To address any discomfort, your dentist or oral surgeon may offer over-the-counter pain medications or prescribe painkillers. Additionally, they could provide you detailed post-operative instructions on how to clean your teeth, eat, and drink while taking care of the extraction site.