The term “wisdom teeth” refers to the molars located at the very back of the mouth. Normally appearing between the ages of 17 and 25, often called the “Age of Wisdom,” they are the last teeth to erupt through the gums.
While well-aligned and healthy wisdom teeth may be a valuable part of the dentition, in most cases they are not needed for chewing and are difficult to brush and floss. At Horizon Dental, we offer expert wisdom teeth removal solutions in Terrace.
While the exact age of wisdom tooth eruption varies between individuals, dentists often recommend extraction before the tooth begins to be bothersome in order to prevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing.
Extracting the teeth before the patient reaches adulthood is especially advantageous because the teeth's roots are still largely undeveloped at this time, allowing faster, easier removal. The diagram depicts situations (impaction) in which wisdom tooth extraction is strongly advised.
Removing wisdom teeth before they begin to bother the patient may prevent the following problems:
Infection caused by a wisdom tooth partially erupting through the gum and creating an opening where bacteria may enter. Pain, swelling and jaw stiffness may result.
Damage to or crowding of adjacent teeth caused by a wisdom tooth without enough room in the jaw or one that is poorly aligned.
A fluid-filled sac (cyst) or tumour forming on or near an impacted tooth, destroying surrounding bone or tooth roots.
Research shows that patients undergoing wisdom tooth extraction at an older age may be at greater risk for oral health complications as a result of the surgery.
The relative ease with which a wisdom tooth may be removed depends on several conditions, including the position of the tooth and root development. Impacted wisdom teeth may require a more involved surgical procedure.
Extraction surgeries are usually performed under local anesthesia, intravenous (IV) sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the length of the surgery and the patient’s personal preference.
Most wisdom tooth extractions are performed in-office by one of our trained and experienced general dentists. Patients requiring additional expertise to account for highly complex tooth impaction or multiple medical needs may be referred to a specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
Following surgery, you may experience some swelling and mild discomfort, which are a normal part of the healing process. Cold compresses may help to decrease the swelling, and medication prescribed by your dentist can help manage the discomfort.
Some patients feel numbness or tingling in the face or jaw after surgery. If normal sensation has not returned after a few days, patients are advised to consult with their dentist.
Occasionally, patients experience a condition, called dry socket, in which the blood clot breaks down sooner than normal, causing a dull ache and foul odour. To help prevent dry socket, it is important to avoid suction (e.g. smoking, drinking through a straw, etc.) and hot food and drink in the mouth as this can cause stitches to break open and bleeding around the site of extraction. We ask that patients contact us if symptoms of dry socket are experienced.