Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
If you’ve been told that you need a wisdom tooth extracted, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. After all, didn’t some of the people you know require general anesthetic to remove their wisdom teeth? There could be many questions you have about the procedure and what to expect. Here is some information to help answer some of your questions and to assist you in being able to anticipate what to expect with an uncomplicated wisdom tooth removal.
Is It safe?
Your dentist’s primary concern is your safety when considering any procedure in their clinic. In order to make procedures as safe as possible, dentists rely on technology such as digital X-rays to help them analyze the position of the structures in your jaw to determine how the tooth or teeth must be extracted. In the case of wisdom teeth, your dentist will want to ensure that the large roots of these teeth are not wrapped around vital nerves or extending into the sinus cavity. In these complex cases, your dentist would likely refer you to a specialist to have your teeth removed under general anesthesia. If your dentist has told you that you can have your wisdom tooth removed in the clinic under local anesthetic, they are doing so because they have deemed it safe.
What If I Don’t Remove The Tooth?
In order to know what would happen if you elected not to remove the tooth, we would have to understand your dentist’s reasons for removing the tooth in the first place. If your tooth is impacted and showing signs of infection, neglecting to remove the wisdom tooth would do nothing to resolve the source of infection and you could be putting your health at risk. Similarly, if your dentist is recommending that a wisdom tooth be extracted because it is decaying, this is because he or she sees the risk of keeping the tooth as outweighing the benefits.
Since wisdom teeth are so far back in the mouth, it’s a difficult place to clean and an easy place to develop decay. Since these teeth have a tendency to develop dentigerous cysts on their roots and often can’t be easily accommodated in the mouth, removal is often thought to be the most pragmatic approach to managing them.
Why Do We Even Have These Teeth?
Biologists think that our wisdom teeth are leftovers from a time where the human diet consisted of dense foliage that had to be chewed and broken down in order to be digested. After the discovery of early agriculture, however, these teeth gradually became unnecessary and today they are considered to be non-essential for the maintenance of your oral health.
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Is it just like having any other tooth removed?
Having a wisdom tooth removed is similar in procedure to having any other tooth removed with the exception of the aftercare. Your dentist will numb the side of the mouth where the tooth will be extracted with injections of a local anesthetic. The tooth will be removed either in its entirety, or, it could be removed in pieces if required. In some cases, the dentist will have to make a small incision in the gum in order to complete the procedure, and in this case, you would have a small stitch or two in the gingival tissue after the extraction.
After extraction, the most important things you need to do are keep the wound clean and don’t use any sucking motion for several days as this risks dislodging the necessary clot that forms over the bone within the socket. If this clot is removed, your nerve will be painfully exposed, and you will need to return to your dentist to have it packed. In the interest of avoiding this, do not use straws at all for the first few days after surgery to give the wound time to start healing. You may want to drink a nice cold Slurpee to help with inflammation in the mouth – but please eat your Slurpee with a spoon.
It will be important to follow all of the aftercare instructions provided to you by your dentist, and to call the clinic if you have questions or need clarification. This includes medication – take all medication as prescribed by your dentist and if you are prescribed antibiotics, ensure that you take the full course of treatment (do not discontinue because you feel symptoms have resolved).