Wisdom teeth are the molars that are a part of our permanent dentition. They are present at the extreme ends of our dental arch. When wisdom teeth are fully erupted, functional and easy to take care of, there is no requirement for their extraction. However, many times they don’t develop completely, and remain invisible or partially hidden under the gingival which makes cleaning the hidden area difficult. This is when one may have to go for an extraction.
The Need for Wisdom Tooth Extraction
The reason behind partial eruption of wisdom teeth is usually a jaw bone that is not sufficiently wide to accommodate wisdom teeth. In such cases, the hidden part becomes prone to trapped bacteria leading to infection and inflammation of surrounding gum tissue. This infection is called pericoronitis, and its symptoms include red and swollen gums, pain in the back teeth while chewing or biting, bad breath, and even pus. Pericoronitis is the leading cause of wisdom tooth removal.
Sometimes wisdom teeth erupt at an awkward angle that makes cleaning of adjacent molars difficult, leading to cavities. At times, they may also cause deep periodontal pockets around the adjacent teeth leading to severe infection. In such cases, it is best to have wisdom teeth removed to prevent damage to neighboring teeth.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Procedure
If you are experiencing problems with your wisdom teeth and want them out, it is better to consult an experienced dentist or oral surgeon as this procedure is more complex than a regular tooth extraction. Normally, it can be done with local anesthesia. However, if you are going for multiple extractions, you may need to get it done in a hospital under general anesthesia. Like any other surgical process, it is important to share with your dental surgeon your medical history, especially the details of any chronic illnesses that you may be suffering from.
The extraction procedure requires the dentist to open up the gum tissue under which the tooth is hidden. He may also need to take out the bone covering the tooth. Then, the tissue connecting the bone and the tooth is separated, and the tooth can now be removed. The dentist then stitches up the gums, and keeps a small piece of cotton gauze over the area to stop the bleeding. The stitches may be self-dissolving, or you may have to go back in a week to get them removed.
It is advisable to rest for a couple of days, and take any prescribed medication on time. Bleeding usually stops in 24 hours during which time you should change the gauze regularly, and take care not to lie down flat on your back. If bleeding persists beyond 24 hours, call your dentist. Keep an ice pack on the cheeks for around 15-20 minutes for faster healing and relief. Eat soft food for a few days, and avoid alcohol and tobacco.
Check with your dentist to see if you need your wisdom teeth extracted!