Several misunderstandings and concerns relate to Wisdom Teeth and how to deal with them. Most preoccupations correlate significantly with their incidence of developing oral problems, how they affect orthodontic treatment, or if they produce other teeth misalignments.
So, here we bring a short Guide, starting with a description of Third Molars, also named Wisdom Teeth. Then continue answering what is an impacted Wisdom Tooth? and include some relatable problems. As we move forward, we will address a fundamental question. When do Wisdom Teeth need to be extracted? and the phases of the extraction procedure in detail. Finally, we will discuss some dietary tips after teeth extraction.
As we continue this article, we will address some questions expecting to clear many of the most common doubts.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom Teeth is a colloquial name for Third Molars that erupt anytime between ages 17 to 25. Third molars are located in the rear extreme of the upper and lower teeth arches. However, sometimes a person might not have any Third Molars to develop; in other cases, Third Molars simply don’t erupt, or only some of them might burst, and there are cases in which they partially sprout or do so at an angle.
Teeth that do not erupt or do not erupt completely, which only appear partially above the gums, are also known as impacted teeth. These teeth don’t have enough space to sprout or do so partially at an angle. There are several possibilities for Wisdom Teeth position shifting. Here we include some of the likely angles in which Wisdom Teeth can grow:
- Toward the second molar (next tooth in sequence to the front);
- Toward the back of the mouth;
- At a right angle related to other teeth and sprouts straightly within the jawbone and;
- Grow straight but stays trapped within the jawbone.
So far, we have defined and pictured the different potential angles of impacted Wisdom Teeth. Next, we continue explaining the dangers of impacted wisdom teeth.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth Problems
“I have gotten an X-ray and have impacted Wisdom Teeth, but I don’t feel any discomfort or soreness.” So, we understand that impacted teeth sometimes don’t bother a patient and might never do.
However, even if they don’t cause discomfort, there is always a chance of infection as with other teeth. Also, an impacted teeth angled position can produce damage to other teeth.
A genuine concern arises when Wisdom Teeth get infected due to tooth decay or other oral diseases. If so, a dentist might recommend removing a piece or several denture pieces (Wisdom Teeth). Unfortunately, impacted teeth do not sprout normally or simply don’t sprout, getting trapped either in the jawbone or the gums. So, removing these teeth might require surgery.
Also, the angle and position of an impacted tooth might touch a Second Molar. Finally, the strain of an impacted tooth might erode the straight tooth (Second Molar) to the point that it can reach the pulp, causing discomfort and pain, but most importantly, affecting a perfectly functional dental piece, a second molar.
Consequently, there is no surprise there is a debate about removing Wisdom Teeth to prevent potential damage, especially considering that an impacted tooth is not functional. So, when should Wisdom Teeth be extracted? Generally speaking, a considerable number of dentists coincide that extraction of an impacted Wisdom Tooth should occur in one or more of the following circumstances:
- Food and debris get trapped in intricate places around the Wisdom Tooth;
- Increasing discomfort and pain in the tooth area;
- Periodontitis (gum disease);
- Tooth decay in partially sprouting Wisdom Tooth;
- Damage to a second molar or bone;
- Growth of a cyst around the Wisdom Tooth that can damage the jaw or a nerve;
- Sinus pain due to pressure causing congestion and;
- Incidence in orthodontic treatment.
In summary, the occurrence of complications before a Wisdom Tooth extraction requires a case-by-case analysis. However, it is crucial to note that there might be some post-surgical complications that, even though they have a minimum possibility of occurring, need to be addressed as well:
Painful Dry Socket
The bone gets exposed once the post-surgical blood clot disappears. The site of the wound gets exposed, causing pain.
A socket might form a space that can eventually get infected due to residue accumulation, welcoming bacteria to grow.
It is essential to make clear that, in many cases, Wisdom Tooth removal requires surgical intervention. Any surgery might have complications, and non-intentional damage to other teeth, nerves, jawbones, or sinuses might occur.
Can Impacted Wisdom Teeth Cause an Overbite?
Wisdom Teeth are commonly associated with other teeth misalignments. However, the commonness of other teeth shifting caused by Wisdom Teeth is unperceivable and almost null.
Among parents’ concerns, one is about a child requiring orthodontic treatment and Wisdom Teeth that have not yet sprouted. The answer is, Wisdom Teeth have no incidence in orthodontic treatment whatsoever.
The late development of third molars exerts no impact on the success of orthodontic treatment. Concurrently, Wisdom Teeth’s appearance does not relate to developing an overbite.
Graciously, Wisdom Teeth only sprout if there is enough space, and partially erupted teeth do so only on the little space available. So, strain exertion caused by Wisdom Teeth is minimal to generate a sequential reaction on a set of teeth.
However, in rare cases, Wisdom Teeth have led to other teeth misalignments. In fact, concerns should be directed to an impacted and angled Wisdom Tooth that might erode the lower part of a second molar damaging it.
Concurrently, a common question patients have in mind is, can I have my wisdom teeth taken out while I have braces? If you choose, your dentist can remove your Wisdom Teeth anytime during orthodontic treatment.
However, if you are considering wearing braces or already have them in that case, we recommend first consulting your orthodontist for a specific case evaluation. Your dentist can also cement braces on Wisdom Teeth.
Finally, teeth shifting might occur as we age. This process is normal and does not relate to Wisdom Teeth.
What Is the Process to Remove Wisdom Teeth?
Depending on the severity of the case, a dentist might require the support of an Oral Surgeon to proceed with Wisdom Teeth extraction. In most cases, a dentist performs the extraction of Wisdom Teeth, but a tooth might be impacted and nested in the bone in such a form that surgical intervention might be needed.
Also, a determinant element that conduces to surgery is the evaluation of X-rays, showing future oral problems associated with Wisdom Teeth permanence. If surgery is needed or you have taken a decision to get your Wisdom Teeth extracted, make a short checklist including these details:
Short List of Dos Before a Wisdom Teeth Extraction Surgery
Talk to Your Dentist or Oral Surgeon
A comprehensive talking and questioning include short but crucial questions about the surgery. Feel free to ask any questions, including the type of anesthesia used.
Be Open to Describe and Respond to Questions
Be open to describing any health-related problems you might have. Also, consider any medicine or drugs you might be taking and acquiescently tell them all.
A surgery sometimes requires taking some time off. Plan how to take care of routine activities like taking kids from school and find a safe ride back home as you might be numb after the surgery.
What Happens During a Wisdom Teeth Extraction Surgery?
A typical Wisdom Teeth surgery is ambulatory, meaning it does not require a patient overnight stay. This type of surgery lasts an average of 45 minutes. However, depending on the case, you might need to be aware of the type of anesthesia used. Here we include the three possible anesthetic scenarios:
Local anesthesia, as its name implies, numbs the nerves in the mouth that connect to Wisdom Teeth. So, you have a broader knowledge about local anesthetics; you might get a shot of any of the following:
- Lidocaine or;
To help you pass alleviate the discomfort, you might also breathe nitrous oxide named laughing gas. Nitrous oxide helps patients relax during surgery.
Intravenous Sedation (IV sedation)
In addition to mouth-numbing, you might also get a sedative drug injected through your arms vein. This will help you get sleepy and feel no pain.
Your surgeon will tell you to relax and count to ten. You will be asleep before you reach that number and continue for over an hour. Then, a general anesthetic might be applied intravenously or through a gas mask.
About The Surgical Process
The Oral Surgeon makes an incision in the patient’s gum around the third molar. For example, the Surgeon might remove a Wisdom Tooth in one piece or might need to break the tooth into fragments before extracting them. After extracting the tooth, the Oral Surgeon stitches the wounds to accelerate recovery. The good part is that recovery usually takes a couple of days and stitches dissolve in a few days.
Response to Anesthetics
Not every person responds similarly to anesthetics, so we recommend you to prepare in advance. If everything goes as planned and you react favorably to anesthesia, you might return to work the same day. However, if your response to anesthesia is not that favorable, the best thing to do is get someone to drive you home, and rest is the best thing to do.
Patients feel discomfort in the next three days following the surgery. However, it takes around three weeks for your mouth to fully recover. So, first things first, you need to follow your Oral Surgeon’s recommendations to avoid any problems and heal quickly.
Recommendations for the next three days after the surgery
- Get a pack of ice and put it on your face near the swollen area;
- Little by little, try to open your mouth;
- On the following day after the surgery, brush your teeth, avoiding touching blood cloths;
- Take the drugs prescribed by your doctor;
- Immediately call your doctor if swelling and pain continue after the first three days;
- Avoid drinking beverages through a straw. Sucking forces muscles and tissue that are healing;
- Use salt water to rinse your mouth gently and;
- By all means, avoid smoking as it delays recovery.
Can an Orthodontist Remove Wisdom Teeth?
An Orthodontist has the training and professional experience to determine the need to get Wisdom Teeth extracted. However, dentists usually extract Wisdom Teeth at their offices. In some cases, a profoundly impacted Wisdom Tooth might require referencing a patient to an Oral Surgeon who will perform an ambulatory surgery at a hospital.
What Can I Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
A dentist or Oral Surgeons’ dietary recommendations are minimal and usually adequate for a short period. Also, patients respond differently to soreness and discomfort, and they might feel the need to avoid some foods for a few days. Here we include a short list of foods that you can cross off your diet temporarily:
- Nuts and seeds;
- Hard tacos;
- Hard candy;
- Hard fruits (apples) or vegetables (carrots);
- Popcorn unpopped kernels and;
- Corn on the cob.
- Roasted chickpeas;
- Cereal and;
- Trail mix.
Also, we recommend patients avoid Alcohol for at least a couple of days after surgery. Fortunately, diet doesn’t last forever; by the fourth day, you might slowly return to your regular diet. Meanwhile, you can eat soups, pasta, or rice, and remember to hydrate with plenty of water properly.