Wisdom teeth extractions are of the most common oral surgeries performed on adults between the ages of 17 and 24. These third molars are four adult teeth that typically grow in during the young adult years. Most adults don’t have a jaw large enough to comfortably squeeze in another set of teeth, which is why upwards of ten million Americans are getting their wisdom teeth removed.
While some wisdom teeth can be extracted in a dentist’s office without anesthesia, you may need oral surgery for teeth that are impacted – not protruding through the gums. Wisdom teeth surgeries are performed as an outpatient procedure and often have a short recovery time considering other oral surgeries. Consulting with your dentist is essential to determine whether you need outpatient surgery and how to practice the best pain management should your teeth become bothersome.
How do you know when it is the right time for getting your wisdom teeth removed?
Typically a dentist will recognize when your wisdom teeth begin to grow in. They will usually monitor the growth until the teeth become impacted (stay beneath the surface of the gums), become partially impacted (part of the tooth remains below the gum), or fully grow in. They can determine the best treatment plan to meet your needs and assist with pain management. Most dentists recommend removing wisdom teeth when the roots are between 1/3 and 2/3 formed.
In some cases, symptoms may not appear with impacted wisdom teeth. However, a few signs that you may need your wisdom teeth removed are:
- Jaw or tooth pain
- Swelling or stiffness in the jaw
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
What can you expect when getting your wisdom teeth removed?
Depending on the condition of your teeth, it may be possible to have wisdom teeth pulled in a dentist’s office with standard numbing agents. However, this can often be more uncomfortable for patients as they can hear and feel the tooth being extracted. Oral surgeries are either performed by a dentist or oral surgeon using sedation anesthesia in addition to local anesthesia applied to the gums. While the surgery itself is not painful, mild discomfort is possible in the days following the procedure.
How much does it cost?
Your insurance may help with the expense of wisdom teeth removal, particularly if the procedure is deemed medically necessary. Without insurance, the cost of wisdom teeth extractions can cost up to several hundred dollars per tooth. Wisdom teeth that are impacted will cost additional. However, if you remove all four molars simultaneously, it may be less expensive per extraction.
To learn more about the cost of getting your wisdom teeth removed, consult with your dentist or oral surgeon to determine the extent of the necessary procedure. Then call your insurance agent to discuss whether or not your existing policy covers the procedure.
What is the recovery for wisdom teeth surgery?
The most critical part about getting your wisdom teeth removed is paying close attention to post-surgery care instructions. It is common for patients to look forward to eating soft foods like ice cream and mashed potatoes, but ensuring proper consumption can make the difference between a smooth or more complicated recovery. It will help if you stick to foods that are nourishing but soft in texture. Additionally, avoid spicy or hot foods, and avoid drinking through a straw for two weeks after surgery.
What is a dry socket?
It can take several months for gums to heal from a tooth extraction. In some cases, stitches may be necessary to assist with the healing process. It is for this reason that proper post-surgical care is of the utmost importance. If patients drink through a straw, smoke, or participate in strenuous exercise outside of a dentist’s recommendation, it is possible to develop a dry socket.
With proper healing, a blood clot should form within the socket of the extracted tooth. This clot protects the underlying bone and nerves that would otherwise be exposed post-operation. Dry socket occurs when this blood clot is dislodged or dissolves due to improper care. It can be a painful side effect that leaves unhealed tissue and nerves more susceptible to food, fluids, and bacterial infections.
Your dentist is your greatest asset. They can help monitor the growth of your wisdom teeth and provide strategies for pain management. Together you can develop a treatment plan should the teeth become impacted or show signs of abnormalities. Wisdom teeth extractions are routine for many dentists and oral surgeons, so your experience should be smooth and pain-free with the proper post-surgical care.