The dental formula consists of the first, second, and third molars, with the third molars growing last. The third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, appear at the back of the mouth at the age of between 17 to 25 years old. They complete the human development process but do not help with significant chewing functionality. Not everyone gets molars – over 30% of the population lacks at least one wisdom tooth. But those who don’t may benefit from wisdom teeth removal Bolton.
Wisdom Teeth Impaction
Ideally, an adult should have 32 teeth – 16 above and 16 below. However, sometimes the mouth does not have enough room to accommodate all the teeth, causing an improper eruption of teeth that results in poor functionality. You could end up with an impacted tooth, which is an improperly aligned tooth. Such teeth lose their functionality and cannot chew food.
Types of Impactions
Partial Bony – Occurs when the wisdom tooth erupts partially because the space is insufficient hence becoming partially impacted. The visible tooth is never strong enough to chew and can make the section impossible to clean properly.
Soft Tissue – Soft tissue impact occurs when the jaw bone is enough to allow tooth eruption, but there’s not enough space for the gum tissue to recede for proper tooth cleaning.
Complete Bony – Occurs when the wisdom tooth does not have space to erupt hence becoming fully impacted. The tooth remains under the jawbone, but sometimes there may be minimal visibility. Removing the tooth is usually more challenging because of the positioning, jaw structure, and facial features.
The impacted wisdom tooth can present in different ways. It may grow towards the adjacent second molar, towards the back of the mouth, at a right angle within the jawbone, or grow straight but become trapped and not fully erupt. Any of the presentations require removal as the only permanent solution.
Complications from Impacted Wisdom Tooth
Ignoring impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe damage such as:
Damage to the adjacent tooth
An impacted wisdom tooth can make proper cleaning impossible, resulting in cavities, gum disease, or decay on the second molar, the closest tooth.
The soft tissues around the impacted tooth can become irritated and develop an infection. The infection can worsen if there’s no intervention, causing inflammation and pain that makes chewing or swallowing impossible.
There has been a long debate about the correlation between crowding and impacted wisdom teeth. Most people believe that an improperly grown molar tooth leads to crowding, which is most noticeable on the lower front teeth. However, crowding is usually commonplace after the use of braces, meaning an impacted tooth could be a contributory factor and not an actual cause. That is why crowding alone is never enough reason for wisdom tooth extraction.
Non-infectious diseases like cysts can form inside the jawbone when wisdom teeth expand and destroy the nearby tissues or teeth. The fluid-filled balloons are impossible to get rid of unless through wisdom tooth extraction during the teenage years. There have been cases of tumours developing if the impacted tooth remains for too long.
Is Wisdom Tooth Extraction Necessary?
Wisdom tooth extraction is usually a solution for preventing future problems, so it does not apply to every situation. A comprehensive consultation before such a procedure is mandatory. Dentists consider several factors before recommending extraction and will not advise removal for asymptomatic cases. You are likely to qualify for extraction if a wisdom tooth has a higher chance of harbouring diseases, there is no likelihood of the tooth erupting, or if you risk developing complications as an adult.
The Right Age for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Removal is always better before you reach adulthood, between the ages of 12 and 18. Extraction at an early age allows quicker healing and brings fewer complications, but you can still get the procedure in your early twenties. You can start planning as soon as you notice a problem, usually pain or swelling. Your dentist can evaluate the state of the teeth and then recommend the best treatment option.
The wait-and-see approach is not always good when dealing with impacted wisdom teeth. You can develop extensive issues later even if you do not feel any pain currently, meaning you may undergo removal surgery in your thirties, forties, or even fifties. The older you get, the longer the post-operative recovery will be. Waiting until the problem becomes more localized can be a better solution in such cases, then you treat the issue at hand rather than the root cause. For instance, the dentist can remove cysts if they develop, but the wisdom tooth will remain in place.
Preparing for Wisdom Tooth Removal
The extent of the damage determines whether a general dentist or a specialist performs the removal procedure. Advanced cases may require the expertise of an oral surgeon or a specialist with the skills to handle such cases with minimal risk. Since it is an elective surgery, you can create a schedule that does not interfere with your routine. Your dentist will arrange a consultation with the surgeon for further assessment that involves radiology use if the impaction seems complicated.
You will choose the right anesthetic option between IV sedation, local anesthesia, and general anesthesia. The surgeon will provide you with all the facts to make an informed decision. Ensure you discuss possible reactions to the sedation and disclose any medication or supplements you are currently taking. Ask as many questions as you like to gain clarification whenever you do not understand. Examples of appropriate questions include:
- How long does wisdom tooth removal last?
- How complicated is the procedure likely to be?
- What treatments will I need later, if any?
- How long before I regain full functionality of my mouth?
- Has the impacted tooth affected other teeth or tissues? How adversely are they affected?
You may also need to make transport arrangements – someone to drop and pick you up from the hospital because the surgery is usually an outpatient procedure. Find out the admission time, if you can take other medications, and what foods you can eat or avoid before the treatment.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Procedure
Are Wisdom Teeth Painful to Remove?
No. The dentist or surgeon will administer your choice of numbing agent accordingly. Sedation is through an intravenous line in your arm. It knocks you off completely, and you may not remember the procedure. Local anesthetic requires injections near the extraction site. You remain awake during the removal but do not feel pain. You may feel some pressure. General anesthesia involves inhaling medication that renders you unconscious. You remain under close observation to ensure your blood pressure, temperature, body fluids, and breathing remain normal. Sedation and general anesthesia take longer to wear off, so you will go to the recovery room after the surgery.
The surgeon makes an incision to expose the tooth after the numbing agent takes effect, removing tissues or bones blocking access. The surgeon then loosens and removes the tooth from the socket, cleans the area and closes the incision. The placement of the tooth determines the removal approach. Your surgeon may break it into pieces if extracting the whole tooth is more challenging. Surgeons also put gauze on the site to control bleeding and encourage blood clot formation after finishing the procedure.
Wisdom teeth removal time ranges between one to two hours, depending on the complexities. The anesthesia or sedative will wear off slowly, during which time you will feel pain and some swelling – you will get medication for both. The surgeon will give instructions on managing possible side effects at home. You can leave the clinic when you are no longer feeling drowsy.
Is Wisdom Teeth Removal a Major Surgery?
Being an outpatient procedure means wisdom teeth removal is not extensive. However, the exact location, formation, and existing complications determine how extensive the surgery becomes.
How Long does it Take to Recover from Removing Wisdom Teeth?
Complete healing can take up to two weeks, but you should feel comfortable within five days. Failure to comply with the after-care instructions can prolong the healing process and increase the chances of complications. The socket could take months to heal completely, especially for patients older than 25.
Possible Wisdom Teeth Removal Side Effects
It is essential to follow all the post-operation instructions to remain comfortable as you recover and reduce the chances of side effects. Part of that is taking time – between three to five days – before resuming your regular routine. Avoid engaging in strenuous activities in academics, career, or sports. Possible side effects of the surgery include:
Bleeding on the day of surgery is normal, but it should stop soon after. Avoid spitting because that can dislodge the clot that forms on the site. You can replace the gauze if you need to. Consult your surgeon if the bleeding is not easing.
Signs of an infection include difficulty breathing, swallowing, fever, pain that does not ease with medication, inflammation that worsens daily, abnormal taste in the mouth, or discharge oozing from the socket.
Nerve damage is more likely in older patients because the nerves are closer to the roots of the wisdom teeth. Between the ages of 12 and 18, the teeth still have shorter roots, meaning removing them does not compromise the nerves responsible for feeling on the lower lips, chin, and tongue. You may experience a tingling sensation after the anesthesia wears off, which is common and temporary. It becomes a problem when the feeling becomes permanent or if there is an alteration in sensitivity.
A dry socket is the most common side effect after an extraction. The bone remains exposed after the blood clot clears prematurely. Dry sockets are more likely on the lower jaws but can also occur on the upper jaws. People who smoke or use birth control tend to be more affected. The complication can cause pain that radiates from the ear toward the chin, but your dentist or surgeon can manage it until healing occurs.
Dos and Don’ts After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Below are some guidelines you might get from your dentist or surgeon.
You will receive pain medication at the dental clinic, or the surgeon may recommend some over-the-counter options. Follow the prescription instructions, especially if you also have antibiotics. You can also try home remedies like holding an ice pack over the jaw.
Ice packs can reduce the swelling in two or three days. Any bruising will disappear on its own in a few days.
Food and drinks
You can drink a lot of water after the surgery, but avoid caffeinated, carbonated, alcoholic fluids and hot beverages. Avoid using a straw because sucking could dislodge the clot and trigger bleeding.
Take soft foods like rice and pudding within 24 hours after the extraction. You can cautiously progress to other soft foods on the second day. Avoid chewy, spicy, or any other food that can stick in the socket before you heal completely.
Arrange for someone to drive you from the hospital and avoid active engagements for the next few days. Any strenuous activity could dislodge the clot from the socket, resulting in bleeding or pain.
Avoid brushing, using mouthwash, or spitting during the first 24 hours after surgery. You can brush gently after the first day, but be careful around the extraction site. Rinsing every two hours or after meals – after 24 hours is also advisable.
Other wisdom teeth removal recovery tips include not smoking, resting as much as possible, and not interfering with the stitches.
How Long does it Take for Wisdom Teeth Removal Follow-up?
Follow-up is not always necessary unless stitches need removal or if there were complications during the surgery or after surgery. Call your dentist or surgeon if you notice any of the above side effects.
If You Have Any Questions
Reach us for everything you need to know about wisdom teeth or any other assistance. Remember, wisdom teeth removal is a regular procedure that can prevent many problems from occurring in the future. We are available to answer your questions if you have doubts or still wonder how long is wisdom teeth removal. We will provide all the facts related to the procedure, conduct the necessary evaluations, and help you determine whether the extraction is the best solution for you.