It really isn’t something you think about until you need it: wisdom teeth removal. When that final set of molars begins growing- and possibly causing pain- it’s important to understand the when, why, and how to begin your wisdom teeth removal in San Diego, California.
This comprehensive guide to wisdom teeth removal provides all of the most important information you need to make the right choices for your health.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to grow in your mouth. This usually occurs in your late teens or early twenties. They emerge in the back-most corners of your mouth. Like all other teeth, your wisdom teeth grow symmetrically with two on top and two on the bottom.
You may wonder why we have wisdom teeth at all if they’re just extracted anyway. These back molars were actually very important to early humans who relied on them to grind raw plant tissue. Today, we have smaller jaws and far less dependency on raw plant material, so wisdom teeth are no longer essential to survival.
It’s possible for your wisdom teeth to grow into your mouth without complications, but most adults experience discomfort, crowding, and difficulties when their wisdom teeth emerge. Nearly five million people have their wisdom teeth removed every year for this reason!
Signs Your Wisdom Teeth Are Causing Trouble
Wisdom teeth have the potential to cause many different problems in your mouth. Become familiar with the symptoms of wisdom teeth complications so that you can identify when it may be time for wisdom teeth removal.
If there isn’t enough space in the back of your mouth for wisdom teeth to come to the surface, they will erupt in the wrong position. Signs of wisdom teeth complications include these symptoms:
- Misaligned wisdom teeth trap food and cavity-causing bacteria
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the jaw
- Changes to surrounding teeth, including shifting and crowding
- Damage to roots of nearby teeth or bone
- Unpleasant taste or odor in your mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Tender or bleeding gums
Every year at the dentist, you undergo x-rays so that your dentist can check the status of your wisdom teeth. Most dentists suggest wisdom teeth removal before a problem even forms in order to eliminate the potential of a more painful and complex procedure down the road.
Do I Have Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Your dentist may refer to your wisdom teeth as “impacted” if they don’t have enough room to emerge through the gums normally.
Imagine a tree trying to grow through soil that’s already covered in plants. The only way the tree can break through the ground is to push aside and damage everything around it.
This is exactly what happens when impacted wisdom teeth try to break through the gums. They may get stuck in any of the following situations:
- Grow at an angle toward other teeth
- Emerge “lying down” within the jawbone
- Stay trapped within the jawbone
All of these circumstances cause pain, discomfort, and serious risks to your oral health. If your dentist finds any signs that your wisdom teeth may be impacted, it’s best to have your wisdom teeth removed as soon as possible.
What Happens During Wisdom Teeth Removal and Recovery in San Diego, CA?
The wisdom teeth extraction process is a safe, standard procedure performed across the country every day. You can trust an expert like Dr. Lozano to handle your wisdom teeth removal professionally and efficiently.
Here are the steps involved in wisdom teeth removal:
- Local anesthesia or conscious sedation prevent pain, discomfort, and anxiety
- An oral surgeon or dentist removes the tissue and bone surrounding all four wisdom teeth
- Wisdom teeth are extracted from their sockets
- Stitches close each extraction site
If you opt to use oral conscious sedation like laughing gas, you won’t remember your wisdom teeth removal surgery or feel any pain.
Recovery from wisdom teeth extraction in San Diego is fairly easy. The most important phase of the healing process lasts about three to five days. You can expect slight bleeding and swelling during the first 24 hours, and your jaw may feel stiff after the anesthesia wears off.
Fortunately, standard over-the-counter pain medications can reduce your symptoms and provide relief. Use these other tips to optimize your healing process after wisdom teeth removal:
- If antibiotics are prescribed, use as recommended
- Eat soft foods
- Avoid spicy foods, tobacco, and alcohol
- Rest and give the area time to heal
After about three to four weeks, your gum tissue will be completely healed and you’ll forget you ever had a wisdom teeth procedure at all!
Will I Develop Dry Sockets?
Dry sockets are the most common complication of wisdom teeth removal. A dry socket develops when a blood clot in the surgical site becomes dislodged and leaves portions of nerves and bones exposed. This is a painful throbbing sensation that quickly leads to inflammation and infection.
Most dry sockets occur between 3-5 days after surgery and can last up to a week before healing. The good news, at least, is that dry sockets are easy to treat. Your dentist will clean the socket, pack it with gauze and medicated gel, and advise you to clean it at home with saltwater.
You can reduce your risk of dry sockets by avoiding tobacco, carefully caring for your mouth after surgery, and following all of your dentist’s recommendations.
Learn More About Your Wisdom Teeth
Only your dentist can evaluate your wisdom teeth and help you determine whether they need to be removed.
At RB Dental Excellence in San Diego, California, Dr. Lozano and his team is dedicated to providing you with the personalized, gentle care that you deserve. He’s here to answer your wisdom teeth removal questions and help you maintain a bright, healthy smile.
Call or schedule an appointment online at RB Dental Excellence to learn more.