Most people accept that wisdom teeth removal will happen at some point in their life. However, those same people might also be thinking about why such an extraction may be necessary or what the actual procedure is like.
At Mint Dental Alaska, we’re happy to provide wisdom teeth extraction services to patients in Anchorage, but we also want our patients to know the extractions are necessary. Here, we’ll explain some of the most common reasons why our dentists recommend wisdom teeth extraction.
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom Teeth is the nickname that has become popular for the third, or last, set of molars. These are the last teeth that will form, sometimes as late as your twenties.
In many cases these teeth grow in at strange angles, or into a space that is too small for them. This symptom is called an ‘impacted molar’ and causes swelling, pain, or tenderness in your gums and surrounding teeth.
Why Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Even if you do not have some of the more severe symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth, there are still several reasons to have them removed. The first reason is that wisdom teeth have the potential to create multiple different oral health issues in the future, so this is often viewed as a preventative surgery.
Other issues arise as soon as the wisdom teeth erupt from the gums, and will often lead to the pain, swelling and tenderness we mentioned earlier.
Because of the wide variety of issues that arise from wisdom teeth that aren’t removed, we wanted to list out some of the common issues we see:
For some reason, although humans have developed this third set of molars, the jawbone didn’t develop to adapt to the change. Because of this, a patient’s jawbone is often to small to allow the wisdom teeth through.
As a result, when the teeth do begin to grow in there isn’t enough space to accommodate them and they become impacted. Impacted teeth can be very painful and can have repercussions throughout the mouth, so extracting the wisdom teeth early on prevents these side effects.
Like ordinary teeth, wisdom teeth can also grow in crooked, sideways, or otherwise misaligned. Because of space issues, it might not always be possible to fix the alignment via orthodontia. In situations like these, wisdom teeth removal could be easier than to go through the trouble of maintaining or re-aligning the teeth.
Another problem can arise if the wisdom teeth don’t erupt from the gums completely. This might not sound too bad, but when the wisdom teeth only grow in halfway, the resulting “flap” of gum tissue can trap all sorts of food and germs that can circulate through the mouth.
Because it can be hard to reach areas like these with your toothbrush, infection can easily develop, causing much more serious problems that will require more expensive and extensive dental treatment.
Wisdom teeth can develop cavities and gum disease just like every other tooth in the mouth. Due to their location at the back of your mouth they can be hard for dentists to get to. In some cases, they 3rd molars are so difficult to reach it is not feasible for a dentist to reach all the way in to clean and maintain the teeth.
If you are particularly vulnerable to cavities or gum disease, your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal just to prevent future struggles with taking care of them.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction Procedure
The extraction procedure is considered an oral surgery, so we often will use a sedative along with a local anesthesia to make the procedure as comfortable as possible. Many of our patients end up daydreaming during the process.
Once you are sedated the dentist will remove the tooth. To minimize the pain and damage to the area, sometimes your dentist will section out a portion of the jawbone so pieces can be removed through the bone.
Post Wisdom Tooth Removal
Possibly the hardest part of the Wisdom Tooth Extraction process is the days and weeks that follow. When you leave the dentist, you’ll have gauze covering the surgical area.
For the next few days you’ll likely want to take it easy. By doing this you’ll lessen the chances that the blood clot that forms will dislodge causing the bleeding to start again. Here are some other things to watch out for:
Swelling, Pain, and Discoloration
As with most surgical procedures, swelling and pain can happen for a few days after your wisdom teeth are removed. After your surgery you will be prescribed medication for the pain, and you can help with the swelling by gently applying ice packs on the side of the face where the removal was done.
The pain medication is normally fairly strong, so you will not want to drive or operate any sort of machinery while on it.
Lastly, discoloration can follow swelling as the healing process proceeds. This is normal and is a result of blood beneath the tissue. If this happens, it will normally occur after the 2nd or 3rd day and may last as long as a week.
Post operation you will almost certainly have some bleeding. When leaving the dentist, we will pack the site of the wisdom tooth removal with gauze to help absorb some of the excess.
After a few hours a blood clot should form and most of the bleeding will stop. You may still see some redness to your saliva and slight bleeding.
During the first week after surgery you should not perform any intense activities, smoking, avoid using straws, and only gently brush around the removal area. All these things could result in the clot becoming dislodged
This could result in a dry socket. If you think this has happened be sure to call us to schedule a follow up appointment.
Especially during the first few days you will want to stay away from hard foods. As we already mentioned, straws should be avoided, but so too should chips, crackers, or foods where small particles could break off and get stuck in the void where the tooth was.
As much as possible keep eating your normal diet and avoid dehydration to help the healing process.
Brushing and Keeping the Mouth Clean
Avoid rinsing out your mouth the day of the surgery and only very light brushing should be performed. After the first day you should regularly (but gently) rinse the site with a warm salt water mixture after eating.
Cost of Wisdom Tooth Extraction
The cost of removing wisdom teeth, like so many dental procedures, can vary significantly. A single molar removal will normally cost between $99 and $350. Many dentists will recommend removing all four at the same time, and this could be closer to $300-$800 depending several different factors.
It should also be noted that if you have an impacted molar it will likely be more expensive due to the extra surgical steps required to remove the tooth.
If you dentist deems the procedure necessary many insurance companies will cover up to half of the cost.
We will cover all costs and insurance concerns at your consultation.
Other Wisdom Tooth Removal Questions?
The majority of dental patients fall under one of the at-risk categories that we listed above, which leads to many people having their wisdom teeth extractions done as soon as the teeth are ready, sometimes as early as age 16.
If you or a family member need to get your wisdom teeth removed, or if you have more questions about potential risks you might be facing, make sure to talk to an Anchorage dentist! At Mint Dental Alaska, our dentists are qualified to diagnose and treat patients with wisdom teeth related issues. Simply call us today at (907) 646-8672 to set up an appointment!