Wisdom teeth extractions are a fairly common procedure. Wisdom teeth often cause problems as they are trying to erupt through the gums. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it means the tooth is caught or stuck under the gums or bone. This can cause pain, the tooth can come in unevenly, or the tooth may only emerge partially.
When a wisdom tooth only emerges partially a flap of skin, called an operculum, may form over the tooth. This can make the tooth hard to clean, and pieces of food may be caught under the skin. This makes it easy for an infection, called pericoronitis, to develop. It will usually go away on its own, but it causes swelling and pain in the area. Some cases may require an antibiotic.
Impacted teeth and wisdom teeth that can potentially cause problems, like infections, need to be removed. Extractions can range from a single tooth, to removing all four wisdom teeth at once. Based on the preference of the doctor and/or the patient, a simple local anesthetic could be used to numb the areas where the teeth will be extracted. Others will prefer to use sedation medications and “sleep” through the procedure.
After the surgery you will need to rest. You need to be driven home by a friend or family member if you have had sedation medications. You can expect for the extraction site to bleed for a little while after the surgery. You may have swelling and / or pain in the post operative time.
You will be limited to soft foods for a few days after your surgery. Be sure to keep the area as clean as possible to reduce the chance for infection. When drinking, make sure you do not use a straw. The sucking motion can cause a “dry socket” and be very painful. The same goes for smoking. If you have prolonged pain, bleeding, irritation, or don’t feel that the extraction site is healing properly call your dentist for a follow up.
Fracture, periodontal disease, and decay that cannot be restored are a few other reasons that a tooth may need to be extracted. You may opt to have a tooth extracted as an alternative to other treatment.
Some extractions are straight forward. Some extractions require surgical removal. An evaluation of the area including an x-ray is necessary to help determine how best to treat the tooth. Some cases will be referred to an Oral Surgeon if there is a possible perceived complication.
No matter the reason for the extraction or the method of the extraction, the above procedure and post operative instructions apply (see Wisdom Teeth, above).