An estimated 10 million impacted wisdom teeth are surgically extracted each year in the US. Removing them can help free up more space in your mouth, resolve bad breath caused by decay, or relieve any pain they cause. Even if your wisdom teeth are not currently causing problems, they may later in life.
Many Americans ask their dentists, “When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?” The answer to this may differ by the patient, but the answers to many questions about wisdom teeth stay largely the same across everyone’s mouth. Check out these common questions and answers about wisdom teeth!
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the four third premolars found at the rear of the upper and lower jaws. The teeth grow between the ages of 16 and 25 for most people. Sometimes, they may come earlier or later.
Wisdom teeth are meant to assist the second molars in breaking down hard foods. They have become non-essential teeth because humans have evolved and diets have changed. Normally, wisdom teeth are not a problem, but they certainly can be if they become impacted or infected.
What are impacted wisdom teeth?
The wisdom teeth are supposed to naturally align with the second molars. In most cases, however, they may develop at an angle to the second molars. When they develop toward or away from the second molar, they are referred to as impacted wisdom teeth. The wisdom teeth may also grow flat on the jaw. Regardless of the misalignment, they are a common cause of pain and discomfort for many people.
When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?
Your wisdom teeth may not be an issue at the moment, but they may become uncomfortable at some point in your life. Removing them as early as possible will help prevent possible future pain and tooth decay. Many people have their wisdom teeth removed during their teenage years; others wait until later in life. When you are younger, recovering from wisdom tooth removal is often easier.
What are the dangers of not having wisdom teeth removed?
If your wisdom teeth have grown at an awkward angle or are causing crowding, they may be a source of constant pain in your mouth. Crowded wisdom teeth may also make it difficult for you to observe proper oral hygiene or chew food easily, leading to tooth decay and periodontal disease.
These discomforts can only be dealt with by removing the wisdom teeth. If you are diagnosed with crowded wisdom teeth, book an appointment for wisdom teeth removal as soon as possible.
Is wisdom teeth removal the same as other teeth removal?
Removing wisdom teeth is a little more challenging than regular teeth depending on how they are impacted. In some cases, they must be surgically extracted. In other cases, wisdom teeth can easily be removed at your dentist’s clinic without the need for surgery. Your dental surgeon will advise you on the best procedure depending on the impaction or crowding of the teeth.
What is the cost of wisdom teeth removal?
The cost of removing wisdom teeth depends on the complexity of the removal procedure. Your dentist will examine your wisdom teeth to see if you suffer from impaction or overcrowding and then recommend the best treatment method for you. Most dental insurance will cover the removal of problematic wisdom teeth. If you do not have insurance, consult your dentist to discuss the payment options available to you.
Do I need local anesthesia or sedation for my wisdom teeth removal?
Whether or not your dentist will administer local anesthesia or use sedation during the removal process depends on the intricacy of the procedure. For simple removals, your dentist may administer a local anesthesia that lasts for six to eight hours. The local anesthesia allows your dentist to complete the procedure and gives you time to eat before your next round of pain relief medication.
Sedation will only be required when the procedure is very complex and should only be performed by a dental surgeon. The surgeon will look at your medical history, allergies, and your general well-being before sedation is administered.
How long is the recovery process after wisdom teeth removal?
Recovering from wisdom teeth removal also depends on the complexity of the procedure. A simple removal should heal in about three days; recovering from surgical procedures takes about a week. How soon you recover from wisdom tooth removal also depends on your age. Recovery tends to be faster in younger patients. Your dentist will provide post-surgical recovery tips to reduce pain and discomfort.
How do I prepare for wisdom teeth removal?
In most cases, wisdom teeth removal is an outpatient procedure — you have your teeth removed and leave your dentist clinic on the same day. You should not need an elaborate preparation plan since the procedure and subsequent recovery is generally fairly simple. Since recovering from wisdom tooth removal usually happens quickly, you can resume your daily activities in a day or two.
However, if you will require general anesthesia, you should have a friend or family member drive you. Plan to take a few days off work or school. Your dentist can advise you further depending on your general health and specific procedure.
For More Information
When you should have your wisdom teeth removed depends largely on you and your teeth. Before scheduling your wisdom tooth removal, however, you should make sure the dental surgeon and staff are professionally trained, authorized to perform the procedure, and will give you the best possible results.
The experienced oral surgeons at Arkansas Maxillofacial & Oral Surgeons can solve all your wisdom teeth problems. Schedule a consultation to determine if it’s time to have your wisdom teeth removed by calling (501)510-1176 or fill out our form online!