Is the removal of our wisdom teeth really necessary? Some are unaffected by them while others were born with the misfortune of experiencing painful conditions. If you belong to the latter group, then know that sometimes the wise decision is to part from your wisdom teeth. And if you don’t have them removed at the right time, then be ready to face certain complications that include dental infections.
Wisdom teeth, what are they?
Our wisdom teeth are our third molars, or the grinding teeth, located at the upper and lower back of our mouth.
But then, why do we call our third molars wisdom teeth? Well, the growth of our third molars often happens at an age when a person is said to move from a phase of adolescence to adulthood. It is the general belief that as we age, we also gain wisdom and become more mature human beings. While this is not necessarily the case for every adult on the planet, our wisdom teeth are called such for simply growing at a time when a person is supposedly wiser. But since they are the last teeth to erupt, there is often no longer any room in the mouth to accommodate their growth.
During a dental checkup, your dentist will have you take an orthopantomogram x-ray so he or she can assess if there is a need for you to have a removal. The x-ray will provide your dentist a clear picture of what is going on with and around your wisdom teeth. An examination of your x-ray will also help your dentist determine the kind of extraction he or she has to make for each of your wisdom teeth.
Sometimes you might need a minor surgery to remove your wisdom teeth. If that is the case, it is helpful to take a rest at home and prepare yourself before having the surgery so you can have a speedy recovery.
Why must we remove our wisdom teeth?
Again, not all people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed. But most of the time, there is a need for an extraction since the teeth’s growth are in an abnormal position. Typical cases of wisdom teeth removal involve the tooth tilting at an angle, growing sideways, or even moving perpendicular to the tooth next to it. Some wisdom teeth cannot even grow out since they get trapped below the gum line due to lack of space. That is a common problem especially for people with relatively large teeth and a small jaw.
There are also cases when a removal is imperative since an infection developed because of food that got trapped in the uneven spaces between the teeth. Sometimes, the plaque also develops, and rapid bacterial growth occurs; this is known as pericoronitis.
With the growth of their wisdom teeth, other patients undergo a change in their teeth bite and inevitably experience a misalignment of their jaws. Also, with the abnormal growth of wisdom teeth, patients are unable to provide the proper dental hygiene, and that results in tooth decay particularly of those at the back of the mouth which are hard to reach.
If there is a continuous throbbing pain or sometimes a severe ache in your tooth, then that could indicate you have an abscess. Though painful and irritating, it isn’t surprising since wisdom teeth complications can likely lead to sores due to the molars’ location. And when the wisdom teeth are halfway through, it becomes even harder to keep that area clean and clear of any bacteria.
When worse comes to worst, patients will have to undergo a root canal to save their teeth or the next molars before an infection destroys them completely. An antibiotic might also work and help heal any infection. But it is only after an infection has subsided that a tooth extraction can take place. That is why it is best to remove the wisdom tooth after treating an infection to avoid any further complications.
Who will do the extraction and how much will it cost?
Once you have decided to have a tooth extraction, and if it will require surgery, your dentist may refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Dentists specializing in dental surgery must often do the extractions because of how sensitive wisdom teeth are positioned. Also, the level of difficulty of an extraction depends on the position of the wisdom tooth to be extracted. That is why it’s good to have a professional do the work.
When it comes to expenses, the removal of a single wisdom tooth may range from $200 to $600 while all four extractions may cost around $1,500. If your wisdom tooth extraction requires major dental care, then the charge could be higher than usual. But you can always check with your local dental insurance provider or even with your dentist to see if there is an affordable dental plan to help you with the expenses.
How to remove wisdom teeth
Before any treatment, your dental surgeon will have to discuss with you the available options and the risks involved in removing your wisdom tooth. That is an opportunity for you to learn about your case and to raise any questions you have that concerns the extraction. In the end, commencing a surgery depends on you, and it is essential that you make an informed decision.
If you push through with the extraction, your oral surgeon will begin an operation with a particular method of sedation, and your dentist will numb the tooth and tissues in the affected area. Once the anesthesia starts to take effect, the area will go numb. To test the anesthesia, the dentist will apply pressure on your gum. There shouldn’t be any sharp pain, but instead, you will only feel a nudge.
The surgeon will then slice or cut through any gum, tissue, or bones covering the tooth using a scalpel. And then he or she will use extraction instruments to loosen the tooth from its socket or any connective tissue. During this time, expect an increased pressure or pushing in the area around the tooth to be extracted. Should you feel any pain, you have to inform your dentist or surgeon right away. And once the tooth becomes loose enough, it can be removed easily using dental forceps.
After pulling your tooth out, your dentist may then have to stitch the surrounding gums or tissues to help speed up the recovery process. You might feel uncomfortable after, but as long as you follow the instructions given to you, you can expect a full recovery in no time.
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Author: Pooria Shahin
Pooria Shahin is a dentist with a clinic that offers affordable dental plans in Brooklyn NY. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in dental surgery. Pooria gained recognition for his contribution to cosmetic dentistry after completing his general practice residency. He also received the Outstanding Practitioner Award. Pooria continues to provide patients with their needed dental care, and when he has time, he shares his knowledge by writing ab