Of all of our teeth, it is our wisdom teeth that are most likely to require extraction. In fact, studies estimate that as many as 5 million people have their wisdom teeth removed every year. Wisdom teeth, also sometimes called the third molars, are the four teeth that grow in the back corners of the upper and lower arches of the mouth. They are normally the very last teeth to come through, often not starting to erupt until we are in late adolescence or early adulthood. The trouble with this is that often, by the time they start pushing their way into the arch of teeth, there just isn’t enough room for them. This can lead to patients experiencing a range of problems from pain and infection to pushing the other teeth out of the way which leads to misalignment issues such as crookedness and overlapping teeth that are more likely to be affected by decay and gum disease.
If you have been experiencing issues with your wisdom teeth, your dentist may well recommend an extraction. While the prospect of having teeth taken out may seem frightening, it is actually a very common surgery and, in the majority of cases, a fairly straightforward process. Nevertheless, we understand the importance of preparing patients for the procedure by explaining what to expect. As such, here’s what you need to know about what to expect with a wisdom teeth extraction.
Before your procedure can go ahead, a couple of important things will need to happen. Firstly, your dentist will need to arrange for you to have x-rays of your mouth. This is necessary so that they can see the parts of the teeth that are below the gum line, which is essential for them to properly plan your procedure. Secondly, your dentist will want to talk to you about your options for anesthesia. Most patients will have their wisdom teeth removed just using a local anesthetic, which is injected into the gum and numbs the tooth and surrounding area. In some instances, patients may be able to request sedation to help them feel fully relaxed and calm throughout their procedure. There are different depths of sedation available and your dentist will be able to advise you which will be appropriate for you. Alternatively, you may be able to enquire about having your procedure under general anesthetic.
Once you have received your chosen anesthetic (and potentially sedation), your dentist will prepare to remove your wisdom tooth. If it hasn’t already cut through the gum, an incision will be made into the gum to access it. You may also need to have a small piece of bone covering the tooth removed.
Ideally, your dentist will remove the tooth whole. However, it may be necessary for the tooth to be cut into smaller parts to make it easier to remove it through the incision. You shouldn’t feel any pain, but you may feel some pressure as the tooth is removed. This is because your dentist will need to widen the socket, which can be done by rocking the tooth back and forth or by using a special instrument. Exactly how long it will take to remove the tooth will vary – it could be completed in a matter of minutes or, if your tooth is being broken up into pieces to remove it, it could take some time longer.
Once your wisdom teeth have been removed, sutures will be used to close the incision. These are usually dissolvable, so you won’t have to return to see your dentist have them removed. You will also be given specific instructions for caring for your mouth while the gum heals, which could include taking antibiotics to prevent infection.
If you would like to find out more about what to expect with a wisdom teeth extraction, or if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your wisdom teeth with our experienced dental team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.