Want to learn more about wisdom teeth? You’re in the right place. In over a decade of caring for patients in Saskatoon, we’ve heard every question you can imagine about wisdom tooth removal. We’ll answer the most common question here – read on!
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are molars, the teeth that are used to grind food. They’re the third set of molars to emerge in the adult mouth and the last teeth to make a complete set of 32 adult teeth. They typically appear between the ages of 17 to 25. They’re considered vestigial (no longer useful) because human diets have changed since we evolved wisdom teeth.
In fact, there are people who don’t have some or all of their wisdom teeth – in the far future, humans may not have wisdom teeth at all!
Reasons to have wisdom teeth removed
People rarely ever discuss wisdom teeth – and when they do, it’s almost always to talk about a surgery to have wisdom teeth removed. As we wrote above, wisdom teeth are no longer important for chewing food. They can, however, cause a wide variety of problems.
Many dentists will remove wisdom teeth as a preventive measure – they can cause infections, misalignments, and other problems if they grow in at a strange angle or if they don’t fully erupt (emerge) from the gums. Wisdom teeth are harder to remove as patients grow older, so dentists will often remove them as a preventive measure when patients are around 20 years of age.
Dentists will also remove wisdom teeth in response to certain health problems – pain, infection, and orthodontic problems can all be caused by impacted wisdom teeth (wisdom teeth that grow at an angle and push against your other teeth).
Not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, and not every dentist removes wisdom teeth as a preventive measure. If you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth, make an appointment with one of our dentists in Saskatoon today.
How wisdom teeth are removed
Your dentist will start by administering local anaesthetics to control pain. This numbs the mouth so you won’t experience any pain, though you’ll remain conscious, and you will feel pressure as your dentist removes your wisdom tooth. In some cases, sedation will be used in order to help you remain calm during the procedure. Very rarely, general (full body) anaesthesia will be used – patients in a state of general anaesthesia are unconscious during the procedure.
The procedure for removal of impacted wisdom teeth:
Once the anaesthetic has been administered, the dentist will cut a flap in the patient’s gum. From there, any bone that blocks access to the tooth will be removed. Using specialized instruments, the dentist will luxate the tooth and remove it from the socket. Sometimes, the tooth is cut into pieces to make it easier to remove. Stitches may be used to close the wound and promote healing.
What is a dry socket?
A dry socket occurs when a blood clot fails to form after a tooth extraction. It is unknown exactly what causes dry sockets, but it’s more common after particularly difficult surgeries, which is one of the reasons many dentists encourage patients to get their wisdom teeth extracted while they’re still young.
As one of the most common post-surgical complications, a dry socket is painful but rarely dangerous. Symptoms of a dry socket include worsening pain, which typically radiates from the source across the side of the patient’s face. If you experience a dry socket after surgery – especially if the pain is worsening over time – call your dentist right away. They can help you manage the pain caused by the condition.
What can I expect after oral surgery?
After surgery, you can expect pain, bleeding, and swelling – all of these things are normal. Your dentist will give you instructions on caring for your mouth once the extraction is complete. We’ll go over some care instructions in the next section.
We highly recommend clearing your schedule for a couple days after a wisdom tooth extraction. Have someone drive you home after the surgery. When possible, have someone stay with you or visit you during your recovery.
When you come to our clinic, we’ll give you specific instructions on aftercare for wisdom tooth extractions. Here are a few of the topics we’ll cover:
- Rest. Sleep as often as you need to. Don’t move too quickly, lift anything, or exercise until you’re healed.
- Eat soft foods – soups, gelatin, and puddings are good examples. Slowly add more solid foods as you heal. Don’t use a straw, as it can suck out the blood clot, creating a dry socket.
- Take the medicine prescribed by your dentist. Ask about which painkillers you can use. Talk to your dentist about the medicine that you regularly use, as blood thinners and other medications can interfere with the healing process.
- Bite gently on a gauze pad regularly, changing the pad once it’s saturated with blood. Call your dentist if bleeding lasts for more than 24 hours.
- Ask your dentist when and how to brush your teeth after the extraction. Consider rinsing your mouth with warm, salty water starting 48 hours after the extraction.
- Use an ice pack to reduce swelling.
- Avoid smoking and spitting after the surgery until the blood clot has fully formed and healed.
Visit the Saskatoon Dental House
Are you concerned about your wisdom teeth? You may need to have them extracted, or you may not – but the only way to find out is to talk to your dentist.
Our family-friendly dental practice in Saskatoon is here to help. Give us a call – we’ll diagnose you, tell you if an extraction is prudent, and extract your wisdom teeth if need be. Our gentle, precise, patient-first dentists are here to help you.