Why Do We Remove Our Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the last set of permanent teeth to emerge in the mouth. Typically, they will appear when you start to reach maturity, between the ages of 17 and 25; hence the term ‘wisdom teeth.’ But why is it necessary to surgically remove them?

What Is An Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

If a wisdom tooth doesn’t have enough room to grow it becomes an impacted wisdom tooth. An impacted wisdom tooth can grow at an angle into your molars, grow backward, or become trapped by the jawbone. When this happens you can experience pain, develop an infection, or experience other serious dental complications. Therefore, many dentists recommend you undergo a wisdom teeth removal procedure even if they aren’t currently causing any issues.

This isn’t to say that wisdom teeth always need to be removed. Some people have no dental complications, and they simply emerge as another set of molars. Others never develop wisdom teeth at all.

Wisdom Tooth Surgery

Impacted wisdom teeth are very common; nearly five million extraction surgeries are performed each year. Typically, you will begin with an X-ray to determine whether the procedure can be done in office or if it will require an oral surgeon. Afterward you will schedule an appointment to have them removed. You will receive either an anesthetic or a sedative before hand in order to make the procedure more comfortable.

During Surgery

Wisdom teeth removal is a minimally invasive surgery. As such, the process usually takes no more than an hour to complete and you’re free to return home the same day. During wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist or oral surgeon:

  • Makes an incision to loosen the tissue around the tooth
  • Removes any bone that may be blocking access to the tooth
  • May divide the tooth into sections if it makes extraction easier
  • Extracts the tooth
  • Stitches the extraction site shut
  • Places gauze over the stitches to soak up blood and promote clotting

After Surgery

Recovery ranges from patient to patient. Some only experience mild discomfort while others may experience intense pain. Swelling and pain are very common and will likely last for about three days. However, total recovery time could last for a few weeks. During those three weeks you want to avoid what is called a “dry socket.” This occurs when a blood clot is dislodged from the extraction site. Our best advice is to follow your doctor’s instructions for an easy recovery:

  • Only eat soft foods like rice, pasta, or soup.
  • Avoid rinsing your mouth
  • Don’t drink through a straw
  • Brush away from the extraction site
  • Try to avoid chewing
  • Use ice for swelling
  • Use a warm moist towel for a sore jaw