Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the final set of teeth to emerge in the mouth. They typically make their appearance between the ages of 17 and 25, hence the name "wisdom" teeth. These late-blooming molars were believed to signify a person's transition into adulthood and gaining wisdom.
The trouble with wisdom teeth arises from their late arrival in an already crowded space. Often, there isn't enough room for these additional molars to properly align with existing teeth. This can lead to various problems, such as impacted wisdom teeth (when they get trapped beneath gum tissue or bone) or causing crowding and shifting of adjacent teeth.
Wisdom tooth extraction is a common dental surgery procedure that helps alleviate pain and prevent future oral health issues. Before the actual extraction, your dentist will first administer local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth. In some cases, sedation may also be used to help you relax during the procedure.
Once you are numb and comfortable, your dentist will carefully remove any gum tissue or bone that may be covering the tooth. They will then use specialized tools to gently loosen and extract the wisdom tooth from its socket. Depending on how deeply impacted the tooth is it may need to be divided into smaller pieces for easier removal.
After successfully removing the wisdom teeth, your dentist will clean out the empty socket and stitch up any incisions if necessary. Gauze pads are placed over the extraction site to promote blood clotting and protect it as it heals. Following this, your dentist will provide instructions on how to care for your mouth after surgery. This usually includes avoiding strenuous activities, eating soft foods, rinsing with salt water solution daily, taking prescribed medications as directed, and attending follow-up appointments for proper healing assessment.
Recovery after a wisdom tooth extraction is an important part of the process. It's normal to experience some discomfort and swelling in the first few days following the procedure. To help manage these symptoms, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen.
It's also essential to follow proper aftercare instructions provided by your dental professional. This will typically include avoiding strenuous activities and eating soft foods for a few days, as well as practicing good oral hygiene by gently rinsing with warm saltwater.
Swelling can be minimized by applying an ice pack to the outside of your cheek for short periods of time. Using a pillow when lying down can also help reduce swelling.
In addition, it's important to avoid smoking and drinking through a straw during the recovery period, as these actions can interfere with healing and increase your risk of developing a dry socket—a painful condition where the blood clot that normally forms after extraction becomes dislodged.
If you are interested in learning more, call our office at (225) 261-0043 to schedule an appointment today! We would be happy to get you on the schedule and help answer any questions that you may have.