Why do wisdom teeth cause problems for many people in their 20s and 30s?
Those in their 20s and 30s will experience a rite of passage in that they will feel their wisdom teeth coming in. Most people will also need to have those removed.
Wisdom teeth are four teeth that grow behind your second molars in the very back of your gums. They may come in one at a time, two at a time, or all at once. When and how they come in can vary from person to person.
They are called wisdom teeth because they are the last of your teeth to erupt and start growing after you become an adult.
Several symptoms start occurring when your wisdom teeth start erupting. Two of the earliest and oddest symptoms are bad breath and a strange taste in your mouth. More obvious symptoms are swollen gums and they may also start to bleed in the back or be tender. You may also have difficulty opening your mouth wide and have some jaw pain.
The pain from incoming wisdom teeth is generally uncomfortable but not extreme. It could be more painful when you chew since you use the back molars a lot for chewing. You could have a slight fever as the tooth starts coming through the gum. There could also be a small gum flap, called a periconal flap, that covers the area of the emerging tooth.
Wisdom teeth are generally teeth you want to be removed for many reasons. The biggest problem a wisdom tooth can cause is being impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth can’t break through the gum to grow for some reason. They could be stuck underneath the gum or simply don’t have enough space because of your other teeth to erupt.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause more pain than normal, as well as an elevation of the other symptoms. Severely impacted wisdom teeth will need surgery to remove rather than the typical tooth extraction.
Wisdom teeth that are causing problems like pain, gum infections, or tender gum tissue behind the last tooth should be removed. Sometimes, some cysts grow. These cysts aren’t dangerous but they are fluid-filled sacs that can be painful.
Wisdom teeth that aren’t causing any pain don’t have to be removed but you should consult with your dentist about removal. The problem with wisdom teeth, even those that grow in properly, is that they can crown the mouth and change the alignment of your other teeth.
Some can cause damage to nearby teeth, extensive tooth decay, and even gum disease. While there isn’t a direct, immediate benefit to having wisdom teeth removed, most dentists advise it to avoid causing problems and damage to your other teeth. You don’t need wisdom teeth for function, so removing them isn’t a problem.
There are two ways to remove wisdom teeth. The first is by extraction or pulling it. This can be done easily by a dentist. The procedure involves giving you a shot of local anesthetic to numb the area.
Once the area is numbed, the dentist will perform the extraction procedure. This can be done quickly within just a few minutes if there are no complications. You won’t feel any pain during the procedure but will feel some pressure as your dentist uses a tooth for the extraction.
The dentist will put some gauze on the area and give you some pain medication to take once the anesthetic wears off. Generally, you will feel better the next day and won’t miss any work or school after the procedure.
The second procedure is surgery and which requires an oral surgeon. The surgery isn’t so much different from an extraction except that surgery removes impacted teeth so it involves making an incision into the gum.
Oral surgery will start the same way as a simple extraction with your surgeon numbing the area with an anesthetic. Those who have anxiety may receive sedation therapy. General anesthesia is rarely used but could be used for patients who are highly anxious, or who have other health or mental health issues.
Surgery for wisdom teeth removal only takes about 20 minutes but could be longer if there are complications.
The surgeon will make a small incision into the gum so he or she can access the wisdom tooth. They may also remove a small section of bone that may also be covering the tooth.
The surgeon will widen the tooth socket by moving the tooth back and forth in a rocking movement. This will cause you to feel some pressure but no pain. Those who feel pain should tell their oral surgeon because they will need to give you more anesthetic to numb the area.
Impacted teeth require some extra work to remove at times when compared to a simple extraction. The surgeon must cut the tooth into smaller pieces so it will be easier to take out through the opening created with the incision.
Once the surgery is over, the surgeon will stitch up the incision with dissolving stitches. This can also happen with extractions as well as stitches can seal the gum. It normally takes seven to 10 days for these stitches to dissolve but your dentist or surgeon will tell you what to expect.
They may put gauze over the incision area and tell you to bite your jaws together to keep pressure on it for about an hour until the blood clot forms in the empty tooth socket. You shouldn’t try to dislodge any clots.
Your surgeon may also give you pain medicine or antibiotics if you’ve had an infection associated with the wisdom tooth.
Aftercare during the first 24 hours after your wisdom tooth has been pulled is important to keep the area clean and from getting infected. This is true whether you had a simple tooth extraction or surgery.
Recommendations are to avoid rinsing your mouth out with liquid so you don’t disrupt the blood clot and avoid drinking alcohol or smoking. You should also wait to drink hot things like coffee, tea, and soup and should put off strenuous physical exertion for a couple of days.
Wisdom teeth removal isn’t a major procedure. It is something most people go through and most dentists can perform it.
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