Your wisdom teeth (adult teeth) are the third set of molars in the back of your mouth. They typically appear between the ages of 17 and 21. It’s normal to feel a little discomfort when your wisdom teeth begin to appear, but if you have pain, see your dentist immediately.
If your teeth are healthy and not overcrowded, you may choose to keep your wisdom teeth. But there are a variety of reasons as to why your dentist may want to have them come out.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth can lead to problems if there isn’t enough room for them to grow or they come through in the wrong position. If your wisdom teeth are impacted, they can get trapped in your jaw or gums, which would be very painful.
Because they are so far back in the mouth, these teeth don’t always come in normally. They can come in at the wrong angle, pressing against your other teeth, or your mouth may not be big enough for an extra set of molars. Wisdom teeth are also harder to reach when brushing and flossing, which can lead to cavities and gum disease.
Should They be Removed?
Wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is:
• Damage to neighboring teeth
• Gum disease
• Tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)
Before making any decisions, your dentist will examine your mouth and take an x-ray to see if removal is necessary.
Removing Your Wisdom Teeth
Your dentist or oral surgeon will explain the removal process during a consultation. You’ll want to discuss any current health problems, discuss anesthesia options, and plan for time off from work or school. If you have questions, make sure to ask. The surgery takes 45 minutes or less. Your dentist or oral surgeon will determine which anesthesia is right for you.
After Your Wisdom Teeth are Removed
After surgery, most people experience little or no pain. Swelling and mild discomfort may be present for a few days, and your mouth may need a week or two to completely heal. An ice pack on the face helps curb swelling, and moist heat soothes a sore jaw. Take any necessary drugs for pain that are prescribed by your dentist. Eating soft foods and drinking plenty of fluids are recommended. Don’t eat hard or crunchy foods. Avoid smoking, as that can slow the healing process.