For most people, their wisdom teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. The wisdom teeth are the last molars that grow at the back of your lower and/or upper gums. In many cases, due to the lack of space, a wisdom tooth won’t be able to grow out properly. It can often come out at an angle, affecting your existing teeth and sometimes causing a lot of pain. When this happens, you’ll need to visit a dentist for wisdom tooth removal.
If you’re worried about your wisdom tooth or if you just don’t know what to expect, don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about getting your wisdom tooth removed.
Why they need to be removed
There are several reasons why wisdom teeth need to be extracted. Besides the pain, there are plenty of other health concerns that can develop from an impacted wisdom tooth.
Here are just a few complications that you might experience:
- Restricted jaw movement
When an impacted wisdom tooth grows, it can cause crowding of the teeth. Crowding is when a tooth row becomes significantly misaligned. This misalignment changes the way your upper and lower teeth make contact with each other, which in turn, affects your oral functions like chewing and speaking.
In the long run, impaired oral functions can strain your lower jaw, causing pain and discomfort when eating or speaking. In some cases, it can even cause dizziness and headaches.
- Cleaning issues
The positioning of an impacted wisdom tooth can also make it difficult to clean your teeth. Because of its irregular eruption, the impacted tooth will likely create hard-to-reach pockets that trap food and bacteria. If this issue is neglected long enough, the bacteria will likely multiply and cause an infection.
- Tooth loss
If an infection is left untreated for a significant period of time, it may also cause cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. These problems can easily spread to the rest of your teeth, leading to premature tooth loss. And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, tooth loss can also lead to bone loss, which is when your jawbone shrinks due to a lack of stimulation from chewing and other oral functions.
What to do before the surgery
Before you get your wisdom tooth removed, you need to plan out for a couple of things. First, make sure your school or workplace knows that you’re going to need some time off. You’ll need time off for the actual surgery and, depending on your occupation, you’ll also need to take a few days off to recover. If your job is very physically demanding, you might need a week or so of recovery time.
Your dentist will also discuss the type of anaesthesia that you’ll be receiving. If the wisdom tooth has erupted through the gums and there are no other obstructions, then a local anaesthetic will be used. Local anaesthesia is an injection that numbs only a small part of your body during the surgery. You will be awake throughout the procedure.
However, if the tooth is stuck underneath the gums (impacted), you will need a general anaesthetic. General anaesthesia will ensure that you’re unconscious during the entire procedure.
You also need to talk to the dentist about any pre-existing conditions that you might have and any medication that you take.
During the procedure
The length of the surgery will depend on how many molars will need to be extracted as well as the complexity of the issue. For a single molar, it generally takes around 45 minutes to complete the procedure. At this stage, there’s not much to do as a patient. You simply let the professionals do the work.
Keep in mind that the pricing of the procedure will also depend on the number of affected molars, severity of the issue and the type of anaesthetic that you’ll be using.
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover wisdom tooth removal on its own. However, if you require a molar removal to treat another health condition, then you may be able to get coverage. If you have concerns or questions about costs, please talk to your dentist and refer to official government websites for more information.
Once the procedure is complete, it’s time to recover. If you were given general anaesthesia, you will need someone to drive you home. If you only had local anaesthesia, then you might be alert enough to drive on your own. However, for safety’s sake, it’s recommended that you have someone else drive you home regardless.
Your dentist should be able to give you plenty of advice on how to recover at home. As a rough guide, here are a few tips on how to recover from the surgery:
- Avoid eating hard foods and stick to easy-to-consume products like soup
- Gently exercise your jaw on a regular basis
- Be careful not to dislodge the blood clot over the affected area through careless eating, drinking or brushing
- Use ice packs to reduce swelling
- Drink a lot of water
It can take one to two weeks to recover from the procedure. If you find that your condition isn’t improving with time, it’s recommended that you see a health professional.
This was just a basic guide on what you should expect from the process of wisdom tooth removal. Remember, this blog is simply here to provide you with general information. If you have any concerns about pre-existing conditions, costs or surgery specifics, please talk to a medical professional.