Wisdom teeth come out last, behind the molar teeth. They typically appear when a person is past 17 years old.
However, these teeth may cram into the gums, push the teeth, and impact the gums. This complication is not only painful, but it can also ruin someone’s smile. Here are other reasons why this surgery might be necessary:
- The wisdom teeth might come out slanted, forcing the jaw and other teeth to move. X-rays may show that this is the case.
- These teeth may not fit into the patient’s mouth.
- Because toothbrushes can no longer reach this part of the mouth, food particles may stay lodged on wisdom teeth. These can become a haven for dental diseases, cavities, and decay.
- In some cases, cysts and tumours might have developed in the back portion of the mouth.
This fact makes this surgery typical in Australia, where at least ten million wisdom teeth get removed annually.
In cases like this, dentists strongly encourage wisdom teeth surgery. This operation usually takes place in a dental clinic. How long does this surgery take? According to interviews, removing wisdom teeth can take up to 45 minutes.
This procedure is elaborate and advanced, so the patients should be completely ready. During the initial check-up and examination, they may inquire from the dentist or the surgeon.
The surgeon will also inform them about the anesthetics to be used and the recovery plan. Likewise, the patients should disclose their health history, medications, and other related medical information about themselves.
Days before the wisdom teeth surgery, it is wise to arrange time off from their job and education. The dentist may even require that someone accompanies the patient after the surgery.
What happens during the surgery?
Wisdom teeth surgery is intensely painful, so surgeons use general anesthesia. This chemical puts the patient to sleep until an hour after the surgery. Then, the surgeon cuts his gums and bones to extract the wisdom teeth.
Afterwards, he will stitch the gums and insert gauze pads to absorb the dripping blood. Unlike other stitches, the ones used in this surgery dissolve during recovery. There is no need for them to get manually removed.
What to anticipate after the surgery?
The patient may leave after waking up from the general anesthesia. Pain will gradually surface in the following minutes. The gums where the wisdom teeth came from will swell. Blood may even fill the patient’s mouth.
Because of these, dentists recommend applying ice packs. They may also administer painkillers and medications. Here are the strict dos and don’ts that wisdom teeth surgery patients must follow:
- Within the day of the surgery, the patient should rest and take things slow.
- To avoid infections, they must watch their gums recover.
- Wearing an ice pack can relieve swelling and pain.
- Gauzes can absorb the blood from the wound. The patient may use and replace them as needed.
- Gently exercising the jaw can speed up recovery and relax the surgical site.
- As always, drinking water in a healthy way helps.
- Closely follow the surgeon’s directions and prescriptions. These include antibiotics, pain relief medication, and supplements.
- Dental hygiene is vital to avoid infections.
- Patients may not drink alcoholic beverages, coffee, and energy drinks.
- Patients may only consume very soft food, like rice and soup. Other examples include pudding, mashed potatoes, and ice cream. Hard and crunchy food, including nuts, can damage the wound and harm the patient’s recovery.
- When eating, patients must be watchful that the food does not hit the wound.
- Patients must not smoke, spit, or drink from a straw. Doing these might harm the blood clots that keep the wound from bleeding.
- Patients must avoid strenuous activities because this might open the surgical wound. Reckless behaviour can also cause blood clots in the area.
- Patients should only brush their teeth a day after the surgery. They must not hit the surgical site or any blood clots.
- Patients must avoid hot foods since these can damage the gums affected by the extraction.
Like less complicated extraction procedures, the patient may recover within a week. But if the wisdom teeth are still inside the gums, it might take longer to heal. Patients must contact their dentist if the surgical side effects become unbearable.
The wound may completely heal after at least a month.
Wisdom teeth surgery is unlike simple tooth extraction procedures. Because of this, patients must watch out for signs of complications. Here are some of the symptoms:
- High body temperature
- Difficulty in breathing
- Excessive pain and bleeding
- Presence of pus
If left untreated, severe complications include nerve damage and dry socket.
Should people choose to remove their wisdom teeth?
Usually, wisdom teeth do not cause pain or dental issues. But in the United States, people decide to have them removed anyway. This trend raises a debate among dentists in the country, which is relevant everywhere, including in Australia.
Why should wisdom teeth be removed voluntarily? Dr Louis Rafetto, an oral surgeon from Delaware, argues that most people cannot take care of their wisdom teeth. This tendency leads to tooth decay and painful diseases later on.
Moreover, surgeons on this side of the argument say that wisdom teeth can affect the jaws, degrade surrounding teeth, and cause cysts. Their location also makes them difficult to clean properly.
Why should wisdom teeth be retained? British dentists have discouraged removing wisdom teeth by choice since 1998. They argue that the research conducted by the University of York disproves the need for such surgeries.
Some statistics show that there is only a 12% risk that wisdom teeth would cause problems. Some dentists argue that the appendix might become inflamed by 7–14% probability. Should this organ be removed without any issues too?
In conclusion, oral surgeons and dentists must guide their patients to the right decision. After all, every patient has a unique facial structure and set of wisdom teeth.
At present, researchers study wisdom teeth in stem cell research.