Tooth extractions aren’t uncommon, but out of all the types of tooth extractions, it is the wisdom teeth that are most often removed. Estimates suggest that around 5 million people have their wisdom teeth removed every year. There is one main reason why wisdom tooth removal is the most common type of extraction and this is their late eruption. Found right at the back of our mouths, our wisdom teeth don’t usually start to come through the gums until our mid to late teenage years, or even early adulthood. There is one tooth for each corner, making a total of 4 wisdom teeth erupt. However, their late arrival often means that by the time they start to erupt, the space within the gums has been filled and there isn’t enough room to accommodate them. If this happens, it can cause a range of issues to develop.
Wisdom teeth can become stuck part way through the gums.
The wisdom teeth can try and force the other teeth out of the way, causing them to become twisted, crooked, or gapped.
The wisdom teeth can erupt misaligned.
The patient may experience pain and infection and the wisdom teeth erupt.
Since misaligned teeth are more likely to be affected by decay and gum disease, where possible our dental team will want to avoid this happening. Therefore, if we believe that you don’t have enough space to accommodate your wisdom teeth or your wisdom teeth start to cause you issues, our expert dentists will almost certainly advise you to have them removed.
Although many people are concerned by the prospect of having a tooth removed, modern extractions are usually very straightforward and cause minimal discomfort. Ahead of your extraction, we will arrange to take x-rays of your teeth so that we can plan your procedure with the greatest safety and precision. The removal itself will normally be performed using a local anesthetic, although sedation may be possible to help relieve any anxiety that you are experiencing about the process. Our team will talk to you about the various options and help you decide which is right for you.
After you are suitably relaxed and anesthetized, your dentist will remove the tooth. Exactly what will happen will depend on the extent to which your wisdom tooth has already erupted. If it has not yet cut through the gum and incision may be needed to do this, and if it partially erupts, incisions may be needed to widen the gap so that the tooth can be removed. Where possible, we will always remove a tooth whole. This may involve widening the socket that the tooth sits in, which is done using a special instrument to rock the tooth back and forth. However, there are instances where a tooth may need to be cut into smaller sections so that it can be removed more easily.
Following the removal of your wisdom tooth, the wound will be closed using sutures and is left to heal. These sutures usually dissolve of their own accord around a week after they are placed. Our dental team will provide you with all of the information that you need to know how to take care of your mouth and gums while they heal. This could involve telling you when you can start eating and drinking again, advising you to follow a soft diet, taking pain medications, and completing a course of antibiotics which will help prevent the wound/s from becoming infected.
If our dental team believes that all of your wisdom teeth need to be removed, we will talk you through your options for the extraction process. While it is possible for all 4 wisdom teeth to be removed in a single appointment, many patients prefer to get one side of the mouth done first, followed by the other after the first wounds have fully healed.
If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth and would like to find out more about wisdom tooth removal, please contact us today at our Missoula, MT, or Hamilton, MT dental offices to schedule a consultation.