DentAlign NYC Answers Your Questions About Removing Wisdom Teeth
Many people have anxiety about going to the dentist, especially if they need to have a tooth removed. At DentAlign NYC, we understand that dental procedures can leave you feeling nervous, but we often find that those patients who have ample knowledge about the procedure feel much more at ease. This is because they know what to expect and can prepare accordingly. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions to provide a single resource for patients needing wisdom teeth removal in New York City. Please reach out to us today if you have additional questions or would like to schedule a consultation.
WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?
A complete set of teeth includes three molars on each side of the jaw. The last, or third, molars are located at the back of the mouth and are also referred to as wisdom teeth. Most adults will have four wisdom teeth, one on each side of the upper and lower jaw. However, it’s not uncommon for some individuals to have more, fewer, or no wisdom teeth at all.
WHEN DO PEOPLE GET THEIR WISDOM TEETH?
The wisdom teeth are the last of the molars to develop, but the exact age people get them varies greatly. In many individuals, wisdom teeth will develop between the ages of 17 and 25. However, it can happen much earlier or later. Some individuals may develop their wisdom teeth during pre-adolescence while others may not get them until well into their 30s or beyond. Some others may never develop wisdom teeth at all.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY WISDOM TEETH ARE COMING IN?
If you visit a dentist regularly, they’ll be able to monitor the development of your wisdom teeth and alert you when they begin to come in and require attention. However, if you do not visit your dentist as often as you should, there are other warning signs to let you know your wisdom teeth are coming in. If you are experiencing pain or tenderness in the jaw or notice swelling around your gums, this could be a sign your wisdom teeth are beginning to erupt. You also be able to feel or see the wisdom teeth poking through the gums.
WHY DO I NEED TO HAVE MY WISDOM TEETH REMOVED?
While most people will need their wisdom teeth removed, not everyone will. It’s a common misconception that all wisdom teeth will need to be removed. As long as the teeth grow in healthy, are positioned correctly, and don’t have other complications, there is no reason to have them removed. However, most individuals aren’t so lucky, as wisdom teeth often grow in crooked or with other problems. Due to this, it’s best to have them removed so they do not affect the health of your other teeth.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN WISDOM TEETH ARE IMPACTED?
A wisdom tooth is considered impacted if there is not enough room for it to erupt naturally in the gumline behind the third molar. Because there is not sufficient space for the tooth, impacted wisdom teeth can cause additional oral health issues, like crowding, cavities, gum infection, and cysts. All of these things can damage the surrounding teeth or gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can also cause significant pain, making it vital that they are removed as quickly as possible.
CAN MY WISDOM TEETH CAUSE ORAL HEALTH PROBLEMS?
If wisdom teeth are not healthy or do not erupt properly, they can contribute to other oral health problems. They may cause damage to surrounding teeth or the jaw bone. They may also cause inflamed or infected gum tissues, as well as cavities, alignment problems, or sinus issues. If there is not adequate space for wisdom teeth, their eruption can cause crowding of your existing teeth, which could reverse any previous orthodontic work or cause hygiene problems.
WILL I BE SEDATED FOR THE PROCEDURE?
In order to keep you as comfortable as possible during the procedure, you’ll be given a local anesthetic in the affected area. Based on your individual needs, you may also be sedated for the procedure, making you totally unconscious. While this can make the process easier for the patient, your dentist will need to review your health history before sedation can be given. This will ensure you are in a stable condition to receive sedation and will help to avoid any risk of complications. If you have any additional questions about our anesthetic or sedation options, please feel free to discuss your concerns with the dentist during your consultation.
WILL THE PROCEDURE HURT?
As we mentioned previously, we will use local anesthesia, sedation, or a combination of the two during the procedure, which will significantly minimize any pain you would feel during the procedure. Following the surgery, your doctor will give you detailed instructions about how to manage your pain. This may include icing the affected area as well as taking prescribed pain medications. While you will experience some pain or discomfort after the procedure, we will do our best to minimize any discomfort until your mouth has fully healed.
WHAT WILL RECOVERY BE LIKE?
Recovery after wisdom teeth removal will look different for every patient, and the length of time needed to recover will depend on how many wisdom teeth are removed and the degree of impaction of each tooth. The estimated recovery period is usually between seven and ten days. However, some patients may recover relatively quickly, while others may take longer to feel back to normal. Following your doctor’s wisdom teeth aftercare instructions will help you recover quicker and make the process easier.
WHAT ARE DRY SOCKETS?
One of the most common issues patients face following the removal of wisdom teeth is a condition called dry sockets. The removal process will leave a hole in the bone called a socket, where a blood clot will form to protect the bone and nerves underneath. Sometimes, that clot can become dislodged or aggravated, exposing the bone to air fluids, and food, which can lead to an infection. This condition is known as dry sockets and in rare conditions can result in nerve damage in addition to the infection. Some common signs of dry sockets include an unpleasant taste in your mouth, bad breath, or pain in your jaw. If you are concerned you have dry sockets, be sure to reach out to your dentist right away.
WHEN CAN I RETURN TO MY NORMAL ACTIVITIES?
Following your procedure, you’ll want to take your time getting back into your daily activities and follow your doctor’s aftercare instructions. You can return to your normal oral healthcare activities within 24 hours of the surgery. This means you can brush your teeth and gargle as you normally would, just take extra care around the affected area. If you are a smoker, you’ll want to refrain from smoking for as long as possible. Smoke inhalation can cause the blood clot in the sockets to burst, which could result in dry sockets. As far as returning to work, it will depend on the type of work you do. If your job requires a high level of exertion, you may want to take time off, as physical activity can aggravate the blood clot. This also means you’ll want to avoid heavy exercise during the recovery period. Sedentary work activities can be resumed as soon as you feel up to it.