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Wisdom Tooth Removal by an Experienced Dental Team

– Dr. Jennifer Silver

Wisdom Teeth Removal Calgary

Wisdom Teeth Removal Calgary

Wisdom Teeth Removal: Do I need my wisdom teeth removed?

The molars found in the very back corners of your mouth are called wisdom teeth. They are usually the last teeth to erupt. The average patient develops them in their late teens or early twenties.

Some people never develop wisdom teeth. For others, they may erupt normally – just like your other molars did – and cause no problems. However, in many cases, as wisdom teeth grow in, they become impacted  and fail to emerge due to a lack of adequate jaw space. If they do grow, they may end up crowding out your other teeth, affecting your natural dental alignment.

Wisdom teeth removal is often suggested when:

  • Wisdom teeth are impacted (meaning they cannot erupt and are trapped in your jawbone or gum).
  • They grow in at the wrong angle due to crowding with your other teeth.
  • There is not enough space in your jaw.
  • Your wisdom teeth have cavities.

Wisdom teeth removal is important when necessary. Otherwise, wisdom teeth can cause swelling, gum soreness and eventually, acute pain. Impacted teeth are very difficult to clean and as such, are vulnerable to tooth decay, recurring infections and may even damage the surrounding bone structure.

To prevent potential future issues, wisdom tooth removal is sometimes suggested even if the impacted teeth aren’t currently posing a problem.

What can I expect from the wisdom tooth removal process?

Wisdom tooth (teeth) extraction is a surgical procedure to remove one or more of your wisdom teeth. Depending on the complexity of the situation, removal can be done by an oral surgeon or one of our dentists. Additionally, it can be done under general or local anesthetic. Because each patient’s case is unique, our dentist will first need to take an x-ray before deciding on the best course of action.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Process

Here’s an overview of what our dentist does during the procedure for wisdom teeth extraction:

  • First, a minor incision is made in your gum to access the tooth (if it hasn’t already erupted.) A small bone covering the tooth may also need to be removed.
  • Next, the tooth is split into sections to make removal easier and to minimize any potential damage to the surrounding bone.
  • The tooth is extracted.
  • Extraction site is cleaned of any tooth or bone debris.
  • To promote healing, the wound is closed using dissolvable stitches.
  • Gauze is placed over the wound to assist in the formation of a blood clot.

The procedure times for wisdom teeth removal vary from patient to patient. While simple procedures can take as little as a few minutes, more complex situations require more time.

How do I prepare for wisdom teeth removal?

In most cases, wisdom tooth extraction is performed as an outpatient procedure. That means you can go home the same day. You will receive detailed instructions from our dentist on how to prepare prior to and on the day of your procedure. Here is an overview:

  • You are required to fast the night before your surgery. As with most outpatient oral surgeries, you shouldn’t eat anything 8-12 hours prior to your procedure.
  • Arrange for transportation to and from your surgery. The side-effects of the anesthesia prohibit you from safely driving yourself home.
  • If you are taking any prescribed medications, make sure to inquire if you should take them before surgery.

What is the recovery period for wisdom tooth removal?

Post-procedure, it’s normal to experience a certain degree of pain and swelling, as well as some bleeding. Before leaving the hospital or dental clinic, you will be asked to:

  • Keep pressure on the gauze so that a blood clot can form in the tooth socket. Blood clots are a very important part of the healing process. Therefore, you must be careful not to dislodge them. The gauze must be replaced every 20-30 minutes.
  • Do not consume solid foods, alcohol, cigarettes, soda or hot beverages in the first few days following your procedure.
  • If an incision has been made, your dentist will let you know how long the stitches will take to dissolve. Typically, this occurs within 7-10 days after surgery.

The typical recovery window for wisdom tooth removal is 3-4 days. Although, it can take up to one week to completely heal. The recovery period is largely dependent on how badly your wisdom teeth are impacted, as well as the angle they are growing.

Here are some things you can do to shorten your recovery time:

  • Stay away from rigorous activity for up to a week, as you don’t want to dislodge the blood clot.
  • Prescription painkillers can help ease discomfort. Pain generally peaks at about 72 hours after surgery. Thereafter, it should start to subside.
  • Prevention of post-op swelling is key. So, as soon as you get home, place an ice pack on your jaw (15 minutes on/15 minutes off). Don’t wait until the swelling has already started!
  • Regularly rinse your mouth with warm salt water to keep the extraction site clean and infection-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does pain last after wisdom teeth removal?

Any discomfort that you experience after an oral surgery will tend to gradually improve over the course of the next several days. In most cases, most people are much more comfortable by day three or four.

However, there are instances where pain might increase around day three and last through the week. Usually this is attributed to a complication known as dry socket. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid wisdom tooth pain, but it means paying particular attention to any home care instructions and dietary restrictions that you’re given at the time of your procedure.

Pain after wisdom tooth extractions is usually minimal enough that it can be managed with an over the counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) when used as directed. Only in rare situations is a prescription strength pain medication recommended.
After your wisdom tooth extraction, we usually recommend applying a cold compress on and off of that side of your face every 20 minutes. The cool temperature helps to alleviate swelling, which is one of the most common sources of pain following oral surgery.

What happens if you never get your wisdom teeth pulled out?

Some people never have any complications from their wisdom teeth. Perhaps they had plenty of room for the third set of molars to erupt all the way, or they stayed nestled within the jaw without ever pushing into their neighbors.

As long as any erupted wisdom teeth stay completely healthy – meaning that they’re free of gum disease, tooth decay, and aren’t hurting the tooth next to them – they can usually stay put. But since they’re so difficult to reach and keep clean, wisdom teeth are at an increased risk of infection and cavities.

Our Calgary dentist will continue to monitor your wisdom teeth from visit to visit, making sure there aren’t any new developments that you need to be concerned with. Just like your other healthy teeth, we’ll make you aware of conditions that pop up between your checkups. practice good oral hygiene so that you can decrease your chances of any reason to have your erupted wisdom teeth removed.

Can wisdom teeth erupt at age 30?

Yes. It’s common for third molars (wisdom teeth) to finish developing sometime in the late 20s to early 30s. Age 30 is the common timeframe in which wisdom teeth are completely formed once and for all. So, if you’ve never had any problems like wisdom tooth pain but you’re suddenly experiencing toothaches or swelling – and you’re around 30 years old – it’s not unheard of to finally need to get your wisdom teeth taken out.
If you’ve made it past age 30 and your wisdom teeth haven’t erupted – and they’re not damaging the teeth next to them – you might be in the clear. But if there are cysts, gum disease, cavities, or pressure against their neighbors, then your third molars are still at risk of causing more serious dental problems in the future.

For 20-somethings who may be well past the stage of traditional wisdom tooth removal, listen to your mouth. Is there soreness that flares up off-and-on throughout the weeks? If so, you owe it to yourself to get a wisdom tooth exam with our Calgary dentist.

Is wisdom tooth removal painful?

During any type of dental procedure – no matter how simple or routine – our Calgary dentist’s first priority is to keep you comfortable and safe. It’s the same when it comes to an oral surgery like wisdom tooth removal.

Before taking your wisdom teeth out, we’ll need to ensure that the areas around them are completely numbed with local anesthetic. That way you won’t have to feel a thing other than a bit of pressure. However, most people prefer to have some type of dental sedation or general anesthesia to help relax or “tune things out” so to speak.

Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a common procedure where appropriate steps are taken to keep you as pain free as possible. Most people won’t feel any type of soreness until the anesthesia starts to wear off. By that point, you’ll have a pain management plan in place to keep you comfortable while you heal. If you’re worried about pain from oral surgery, be sure to ask our Calgary dentist about the different levels of sedation that are available in our office.

What to expect when you get your wisdom teeth out?

Most of what to expect during wisdom tooth removal is planning for any sedation and then keeping comfortable as you heal afterwards.
As far as the sedation, you’ll want to make sure that you have someone to drive you home and stay with you until the medication completely wears off. For most people this is a family member or a good friend.

Once you get home, you’ll want to have a place to rest with your head elevated, such as a recliner or several pillows behind your back. Having over the counter pain reliever, cold compresses, and soft foods on hand is essential.

Stay hydrated but avoid drinking through a straw or any alcoholic/caffeinated beverages, as these could delay wound healing and increase your chances of getting a dry socket.

In most cases, our Calgary dentist will use a dissolvable suture at your extraction site. But we may still need to see you back within a week to monitor your healing and check for any small bone fragments that may be working their way out.

How do you know if your wisdom teeth are coming in?

Wisdom teeth tend to start coming in sometime during adolescence and into a person’s college years. It can vary greatly from one person to the next. Some individuals may have nearly fully formed third molars on their X-rays by the time they’re 12 or 13, while others are closer to 18 before the wisdom teeth start peeking through the gums.

More often than not, wisdom tooth pain tends to present itself as a dull ache. The swelling or toothache will usually flare up for a while then die back down. In most cases it isn’t a constant shooting pain in that part of your mouth. That’s why it feels so different than typical toothaches, cavities, and abscessed teeth.

You can tell a wisdom tooth is coming in by the classic “teething” symptoms that young children get. These include sore or itchy gums that might feel better when they’re rubbed or chew on something. At a certain point, a small opening will usually start to form, where the molar will hopefully erupt.

Can wisdom teeth cause headaches and nausea?

It’s not unheard of for people with wisdom tooth pain to also experience headaches. Since there’s soreness and swelling, it may radiate well into your TMJ and temples, making it appear as if you have a headache. Or if you’re in so much pain that you clench your teeth tightly together (bruxism) the muscle tension surrounding your jaws can pull at your face and scalp, also causing headaches.

Nausea isn’t common with wisdom tooth development, but it is one of the side effects following oral surgery with sedation. If you’re scheduled to have your wisdom teeth extracted with general anesthesia, you may need to watch what you eat for a day or two. Some people are sensitive to the medication and experience nausea and vomiting as a side-effect. It’s also common for fluids to drip down your throat and into your stomach, leading to nausea during your recovery.

If you’re experiencing chronic headaches and suspect you have wisdom teeth coming in, it’s best to go ahead and have our Calgary dentist examine the area to rule out any complications.

What age do wisdom teeth stop growing?

In most cases, wisdom teeth will be completely developed (and finished growing) by the time you’re about 30 years old. Your third molars are the last set of teeth to form, and their nickname is because of how late in life they develop. Usually the soonest that a wisdom tooth is fully formed is sometime in a person’s mid to late 20s. That’s why it’s so common for the third molars to need to be extracted during the high school and college years.

You might never feel your wisdom teeth growing until they’re almost fully developed. If you’re lucky enough to not experience any wisdom tooth pain in your 20s and early 30s, then you’re probably “off the hook” so to speak. That being said, it’s important to have our Calgary dentist examine your third molars to make sure there aren’t any co-existing conditions that might complicate things later (such as bone loss, cavities, or periodontal infections.)

Once a wisdom tooth stops growing in your early 30s, it will usually stay in the same position unless a neighboring tooth falls out or is extracted.

What is the purpose of wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are sort of like natures “second chance” when it comes to maintaining enough of the teeth needed for grinding and chewing our food. In ages past, a person’s life expectancy wasn’t as good as what it is today. And there was also the case of dental diseases and tooth loss, due to lack of care.

Today, we don’t rely very much on wisdom teeth. Why? Because we’re able to better maintain the teeth that we do have. But wisdom teeth still develop, and as a result they can crowd the healthy ones that are still in your mouth. Since they’re essentially non-functional in today’s age, and because there usually isn’t any room for them to erupt properly, it’s common to have these extra teeth taken out (extracted) if and when they start to cause problems.

Can wisdom teeth cause ear pain?

Your upper wisdom teeth are located closer to your TMJ and ear than any of the other teeth in your mouth. If for any reason they become infected, cause swelling, or you’re clenching your teeth because of the pain, it’s not unheard of to experience referred pain that exhibits itself as TMJ soreness or earaches. In fact, ear pain is a common symptom of TMJ disorder and bruxism (clenching and grinding.)

The wisdom tooth itself won’t make your ears hurt. But if you notice significant swelling and soreness in that area of your mouth and it extends into your jaw/face/ear, then your third molars may have something to do with it.

When you visit our Calgary dentist, we can take a special X-ray (panoramic) that captures your wisdom teeth and the facial anatomy around it. At that point we can determine if your third molars or TMJ are a possible cause of your ear pain. But if symptoms persist or you’re experiencing fluid buildup in your ears, you may need to see a specialist such as an ENT.

Our team of Calgary-based dentists believe that communication is essential to good dental care. Therefore, we strive to create a trusting and comfortable environment where our patients can freely express their concerns. Prior to conducting your wisdom tooth removal procedure, we provide a comprehensive examination and inform you of all your options. We encourage our patients to take an active part in their treatment choices. Our services are tailored to your specific needs and requirements.

Services are provided by General Dentists

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