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What to Expect When Wisdom Teeth or Third Molars Need to Be Removed

Posted on 7/1/2024 by Bellevue Office
3D rendered xray of an impacted wisdom tooth butting against the tooth next to itEveryone has third molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, located at the back corners of the mouth. These teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, but not everyone develops them. Sometimes, wisdom teeth grow in normally and cause no problems. However, they often erupt at an angle, become impacted (stuck in the jawbone), or lack enough space to erupt fully, leading to various complications.

Why Wisdom Teeth Removal May Be Necessary

In these situations, wisdom teeth removal becomes necessary. Here are some reasons why your dentist might recommend extraction:

What to Expect During the Procedure

•  Impaction: Impacted wisdom teeth can damage surrounding teeth, cause bone loss, and lead to cyst formation.
•  Crowding: If wisdom teeth erupt with insufficient space, they can push other teeth out of alignment, affecting your bite and overall oral health.
•  Decay and gum disease: Partially erupted wisdom teeth are difficult to clean, making them prone to cavities and gum infections.
•  Pain and inflammation: Impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty opening your mouth.
•  Cysts and tumors: In rare cases, wisdom teeth can contribute to the development of cysts or tumors in the jawbone.

Wisdom teeth removal is a common surgical procedure typically performed by an oral surgeon or dentist with specialized training. Here's what you can expect:
•  Consultation and X-rays: Your dentist will discuss your medical history, examine your mouth, and take X-rays to determine the position and angulation of your wisdom teeth.
•  Pre-operative instructions: You will receive detailed instructions regarding eating, drinking, and medication before the procedure.
•  Anesthesia: Depending on the complexity of the extraction and your preference, you will receive either local anesthesia (numbing the area) or general anesthesia (putting you to sleep).
•  Extraction: The dentist will make an incision in your gum tissue to expose the tooth and remove it. This may involve sectioning the tooth into smaller pieces for easier removal.
•  Post-operative care: After the extraction, you will receive instructions on managing pain, swelling, and proper wound care. You will need to rest and avoid strenuous activities for a few days.

Recovery and Aftercare

Following wisdom teeth removal, it's essential to follow your dentist's instructions for optimal healing. Here are some key points:
•  Pain management: You will likely experience some pain and swelling, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medications.
•  Diet: Start with soft foods and gradually progress to a regular diet as tolerated. Avoid hard, chewy, or spicy foods that can irritate the extraction sites.
•  Oral hygiene: Maintain good oral hygiene by gently brushing and rinsing your mouth after meals. Avoid direct contact with the extraction sites for the first few days.
•  Follow-up appointment: Schedule a follow-up appointment with your dentist to ensure proper healing and address any concerns.

Addressing Concerns and FAQs

It's natural to have questions and concerns about wisdom teeth removal. Here are some frequently asked questions:
•  Is the procedure painful? Most patients experience minimal discomfort during the procedure due to anesthesia. You may experience some pain and swelling afterward, which can be managed with medication.
•  How long does the recovery take? Recovery typically takes a few days to a week. You should be able to return to work or school within a few days, but avoid strenuous activities for a longer period.
•  Are there any risks or complications? Like any surgery, wisdom teeth removal carries potential risks, such as infection, dry socket, and nerve damage. However, these complications are rare when the procedure is performed by a qualified dentist.
•  What are the alternatives to extraction? In some cases, it may be possible to monitor the wisdom teeth instead of removing them. However, if they are causing problems or are likely to do so in the future, extraction is usually the best option.

If your dentist recommends wisdom teeth removal, it's important to understand the procedure and what to expect. By following the pre-operative and post-operative instructions, you can ensure a smooth recovery and minimize any discomfort. Remember, addressing wisdom teeth issues early can prevent future complications and maintain your overall oral health. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to discuss them with your dentist.

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4100 Factoria Blvd SE Suite C
Bellevue, WA 98006-1262

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