Wisdom Tooth Removal
The irony of their name is not lost on anyone who has experienced challenges with their wisdom teeth. These large teeth are situated at the back of the mouth and typically there are four, though there can be fewer or more in some cases. Wisdom teeth begin to emerge between the teenage and young adult years, often beginning to announce themselves due to swelling or discomfort as they try to emerge. Since these are the last natural teeth to emerge, it is often hard to accommodate them comfortably and safely.
Wisdom teeth are the largest teeth we have, and they have the largest roots also. As a result of their size, wisdom teeth often get stuck (impacted) and require intervention to remove them. Wisdom teeth that are left in the mouth are at risk of causing other teeth to shift, or they may damage the root systems of their neighbouring teeth.
In some cases, wisdom teeth can develop a cyst on the ends of their roots, called a dentigerous cyst. It’s important to see your dentist regularly and to have digital X-rays done in order to treat problems like cysts before they become visually or symptomatically evident. Dentigerous cysts are asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t cause pain or other symptoms that would otherwise alert us to their presence. Left to grow, these cysts fill with fluid and begin to erode neighbouring structures like root systems and bone.
Why Do We Remove Them?
As if the risk of cyst development wasn’t enough, wisdom teeth can also present a number of other challenges. These teeth are inherently hard to clean, since they are positioned so far back on the dental arch. This makes it easy for food to be packed on and around the teeth, but hard to clean it effectively. Before long, these teeth and the soft tissues around them begin to show signs of irritation and decay.
It is common to have impacted wisdom teeth, meaning that they are stuck and have not been able to move into their correct placement properly. There are different kinds of impacted teeth depending upon how they are stuck. Some of the teeth get stuck horizontally in the bone and don’t emerge into the gum layer. Other teeth make it partially into the gums, while some will emerge into the mouth but retain a layer of soft tissue. When this occurs, the portion of the tooth that is exposed allows food and bacteria to slip under the flap of gum tissue that covers part of the tooth. This results in infection that is difficult to fully resolve until the tooth is removed.
Signs of Infection
If your wisdom teeth have begun to emerge and you have pain in the tissues surrounding them, you could be battling the early stages of infection. Additional signs of trouble include difficulty opening the jaw without discomfort, and a bad taste that seems not to go away. If you see a pustule (pimple) forming on the gum tissue, there is an infection present. In this case, call us for an emergency dental appointment. Tooth infections must be handled promptly to prevent them from potentially spreading into other tissues. If you are in pain, holding ice or cold water in the mouth may offer some relief until you are able to see your dentist. You may also benefit from a cold pack held on the outside of the cheek, but never use heat on an infection.
Do I Need a Specialist?
The roots of your wisdom teeth are much larger than your other teeth, meaning that they can extend up into the sinus cavity, or down around the main nerve. This can make removing them difficult, but your dentist has all the tools required to properly assess the situation. A digital X-ray will provide all the insight your dentist needs about where the roots of your teeth are sitting compared to the structures around them. If your dentist determines that you require a specialist, he or she may refer you to a dentist who specializes in removing hard-to-extract teeth. More than likely, however, your dentist will give you the go ahead to book your appointment for extraction at the clinic.
How to Care for the Extraction Site
Your dentist will provide you with information regarding how to care for your extraction site at home, and it is important to follow these instructions to the letter in the days following your extraction. The most important thing to remember after extraction is not to use any suction action until your wound has healed. Your body will lay a blood clot over the exposed nerve when your tooth is removed and sucking motion risks dislodging it. This results in a painful condition called dry socket – and it’s one you’ll want to avoid.
If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.