Losing Your Wisdom (Teeth, That Is)

Posted on August 20, 2013 in General oral health

Dentist and patient looking at tooth x-ray.

For many people, wisdom teeth (also known as “third molars”) are often more problematic than helpful. Wisdom teeth often come in misaligned or emerge only partially, and some remain trapped underneath the gums. These are known as “impacted” teeth and can eventually cause infection of the gums and surrounding bone.

Because of these issues, many dentists recommend having the wisdom teeth removed early, before they cause any problems, usually between the ages of 14 and 21. This has been a subject of some controversy in dentistry as others believe they should be removed only when they cause a problem. If you and your dentist decide that it's best to have yours taken out, here's what you can expect:

• The surgeon will likely use local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, or general anesthesia for the surgery.

• Surgery will usually take an hour or less, depending on how many teeth are being removed.

• After spending time in recovery at the office, you'll need a friend or family member to drive you home.

• Expect a little bleeding from the surgery site for a few hours post-surgery.

• You will likely experience facial swelling for the first 48 to 72 hours. Ice packs will help!

• A little skin discoloration or bruising is normal.

• You may experience some pain or discomfort for a few days after the surgery, but your surgeon will be able to prescribe the appropriate pain medication.

You'll need to keep that area of your mouth clean and free of food debris until gums have fully healed. Beyond that, you should be back to normal in just a few days.