Your wisdom teeth are the third molars in the far back corners of your mouth. There are a total of four; one in each quadrant. These molars are the last permanent teeth to come in and typically surface in the late teens to early twenties. Not everyone will develop all four wisdom teeth and some folks don’t get any at all.
When to Get Wisdom Teeth Removed
Most often than not, third molars are extracted for preventative or therapeutic purposes. Here are some reasons why:
Some people simply don’t have enough room in their mouth to hold 32 teeth. Since third molars are the last teeth to erupt, the process can cause a significant amount of pain because the teeth may have to try to squeeze their way through the little room that is left in the jaw.
Commonly, wisdom teeth also cause pain because they are positioned sideways. As they move, they push against neighboring teeth, which results in significant pressure and pain.
When wisdom tooth pain is severe, it causes a headache and earache as well.
When the gum tissue around the third molars becomes inflamed, swelling is typical. Swelling can extend into your cheek and be seen on the outside of your face if there’s a wisdom tooth infection. It can even swell your eye shut and go down your throat, constricting your breathing.
If you ever experience severe facial swelling, you should go to the nearest hospital emergency room. For localized inflammation, see Eastport Dental for an exam.
- Tooth Decay
Even most people who have room for their third molars end up getting them removed somewhere down the road.
Wisdom teeth are very hard to keep clean because they’re oftentimes impossible for you to reach with your toothbrush and dental floss.
Inevitably, your third molars become significantly decayed. When faced with cavities, you not only need to worry about the wisdom tooth itself, but you should be concerned with the neighboring teeth as well. When food particles get between teeth and not removed, a cavity develops on both teeth.
Spreading decay is one to the biggest reasons people choose to have their wisdom teeth removed (as a precautionary measure.)
- Gum and Tooth Infection
Some wisdom teeth, especially ones that don’t come in straight, form “pockets” of gum tissue that harbor bacteria. This creates a cesspool of unpleasant odors and gum infection.
The tooth itself can also get infected if decay becomes too great. When a cavity starts to form, it does so on the outer most layer of your tooth. If left untreated, the decay spreads and deepens within the tooth. Eventually, the cavity will reach the nerve deep inside and an infection will occur. A abscessed wisdom tooth can cause a severe amount of pain and swelling.
Typically, when a tooth is infected, our dentist will recommend root canal therapy to repair it. Since wisdom teeth repairs don’t last very long (because decay will continue to develop,) it’s often best to extract these teeth rather than fix them.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas), or oral (conscious) sedation are both available at Eastport Dental. For deeper sedation where you are “put to sleep”, we can refer you to an oral surgeon. With each method, your comfort is our priority and the sedation will be used along with a local anesthetic to numb the area being treated.
During the procedure, our Mesa dentist will remove any necessary gum tissue and bone that surrounds the third molars. Once the teeth are out, we may place sutures if needed.
Wisdom tooth extraction recovery time will be a few days to a week. The area will be completely closed and healed after a couple of months.
When to Schedule A Wisdom Teeth Consultation
If you’re not sure if you have wisdom teeth or what kind of condition they’re in, then we can help. Knowing where you stand may prevent you from experiencing a dental emergency in the future.
If you have a growing child, we will take an x-ray to see if they have developing wisdom teeth to help us determine what state they’re in. Including if there is enough room for them, and if you should consider getting them extracted.
It’s easy to mistake a toothache with a headache or earache. If you experience any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to call our Mesa, AZ dentist. Dr. Vinh Huynh, DMD will perform a wisdom tooth evaluation to determine the cause and extent of your condition