Wisdom teeth are molars that often show up late to the party.
Unlike your other adult teeth that start to emerge in childhood, these molars don’t usually appear until the late teen years or early adulthood. Because of this, they can cause problems with your other teeth when they begin to surface. That’s why they often get removed as a preventive measure.
Caesar Sweidan, DDS, at Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants in Gulfport, Mississippi, uses 3-D scanners to monitor wisdom teeth and their growth. This advanced imaging can help determine if they could be a cause for concern and require removal.
If you still have your wisdom teeth, here’s why Dr. Sweidan might recommend removal.
Why wisdom teeth can cause problems
There are normally four wisdom teeth, also called “third molars.” They grow in as the last teeth at the back of the mouth, one on each side of the top arch and one on each side of the bottom arch.
Wisdom teeth can cause issues for several reasons. In many cases, this is due to the fact that there often isn’t enough space for them in the mouth by the time they start to grow in.
When a tooth doesn’t have enough room, it can become “impacted” or get stuck partially or fully below the gum line. Having impacted teeth increases your chances of developing disease or complications because they can’t be cleaned properly.
Wisdom teeth can also grow at odd and painful angles. They can push toward other teeth, into the jawbone itself, or even toward the back of the mouth.
Common dental problems involving wisdom teeth include:
- Misalignment, overcrowding, and bite issues
- Damage to surrounding teeth
- Bacteria problems, gum disease, extensive tooth decay, and cavities
- Fluid-filled sacs (cysts) near the wisdom teeth
- Jaw and nerve damage from infections
In addition to these dental issues, wisdom teeth can also cause significant pain in the mouth, jaw, and sinuses. But, the absence of pain doesn’t guarantee that your wisdom teeth aren’t a problem.
What to expect when having your wisdom teeth removed
Dr. Sweidan can determine if your teeth need removing by performing an exam and reviewing your 3-D images.
Whenever possible, Dr. Sweidan recommends extracting problematic wisdom teeth when the patient is young and healthy. Early intervention can make the process a little easier because the wisdom tooth roots and bone haven’t fully formed, so you may be able to avoid unnecessary pain and complications.
If you do need your wisdom teeth removed, Dr. Sweidan will use sedatives and local anesthetics, so you won’t feel a thing during your procedure. The entire process usually takes 90-120 minutes if you have multiple wisdom teeth removed.
After your appointment, you’ll need to relax for at least 24 hours. Dr. Sweidan will provide detailed instructions on caring for your mouth, so you can heal as quickly and comfortably as possible. You should expect some discomfort and swelling during the first few days, but icing your jaw and using pain relievers should ease your symptoms.
Dr. Sweidan also recommends avoiding hot beverages, smoking, and activities that create a sucking action in the mouth, such as spitting or using a straw. Not only can doing these things hinder the healing process, but they can also put you at risk of developing an uncomfortable complication called dry socket.
You can usually expect to feel fully recovered within 3-4 days of your extraction, but it can take up to a week for more complex removals.
Do you still have your wisdom teeth? Find out if they should be removed by calling Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants today.