3 Common Questions about Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom teeth are the last four molars that grow into your mouth. However, this doesn't always happen without a hitch. If your dentist tells you that your wisdom teeth need to be extracted, you may become apprehensive. Removal of wisdom teeth is often unpleasant because they are the most inaccessible teeth with the largest roots. This article highlights a few questions commonly raised by patients facing wisdom teeth removal.
1. Why would I need my wisdom teeth removed?
Evolutionary, earlier human forms had larger jaws because they needed to chew tougher food. As we've devised methods to soften food and therefore don't need to chew so much, our jaws have become considerably smaller than our ancestors'.
For some, there isn't adequate space to hold all 32 teeth, and the result is an impacted wisdom tooth. The improper growth of a wisdom tooth can cause pain, gum disease and other infections. Impacted teeth should be extracted as soon as possible, before the rooting system is fully developed, or else the experience can be more unpleasant.
2. What should I know before wisdom tooth removal?
You will need to discuss the procedure with your dentist so that you know what to expect.
- Anaesthesia – you can choose general anaesthesia which puts you under completely, or local anaesthesia which numbs your mouth and leaves you awake. The former requires a longer recovery time. You can also have sedation anaesthesia that keeps you unconscious/asleep during the procedure. Local is also administered to numb the gums.
- Process – your dentist will make an incision in your gums to reveal bone and tooth. Then, he/she takes out the bone to reveal the root and divides the tooth in sections for ease of removal. Once the tooth fragments are all out, he/she will clean the site and place gauze on the site to control bleeding
Depending on your choice of anaesthesia, you may need to have someone take care of you after the procedure. If you're apprehensive about dental procedures, general or sedation anaesthesia would be ideal, as they leave no memory of the procedure.
3. What can I expect during my recovery?
Your recovery may take a few days depending on how the procedure went. Your dentist will prescribe some painkillers for you, as pain is expected within this recovery period. You can also expect some swelling in the hours after surgery, which can last up to two days. Using icepack against your jaw can control both pain and swelling by numbing the nerves.
Some bleeding immediately after extraction should be expected. Have a stash of sterile gauze pads on hand and exchange them frequently. Gently bite on the gauze pad to apply pressure and encourage clotting. You should also rinse out with warm saltwater to clean the site and reduce chances of infection.
Finally, it will be difficult to open your mouth and chew, so you will have to stick with soft or mashed foods and liquids during recovery. Don't brush your teeth for the first day after the procedure, and limit your activity as any strain can reopen the clot and start bleeding.