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Wisdom Teeth Removal in Memphis

Wisdom teeth removal is a common practice for the majority of dentists in America. In fact, almost 90% of Americans have had their wisdom teeth removed. During your annual dental exam and check-up, your dentist will take x-rays and monitor the growth of your wisdom teeth. Once the time comes, they will let you know whether or not you would benefit from wisdom teeth removal. 

Learn More: Annual Dental Exams

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth, named for the age in which they erupt, are the final set of molars that appear in the mouth, often during the final stages of the body’s growth and development. They typically emerge at the end of adolescence or the beginning of adulthood, between the ages of 17 and 24. However, some people may develop their wisdom teeth in their late twenties, and others do not develop them at all. 

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

According to anthropologists, wisdom teeth were used by our ancestors to break down and chew coarse food such as nuts, roots, and meats. Since we have developed modern tools and softer foods, we no longer need teeth for this purpose. Oftentimes, wisdom teeth cause more harm than good if left in the mouth. 

Should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

If your wisdom teeth are fully erupted and positioned correctly, you may not need them removed. However, many dentists will suggest that you go through the wisdom teeth removal process anyways in anticipation of problems in the future. If you are contemplating going through the process of wisdom teeth removal, it’s important to remember that extraction and recovery are easier the younger you are. You may need your wisdom teeth removed if you are experiencing the following:

  • Impaction
  • Damage to your other teeth
  • Sinus problems
  • Swelling

Impaction

Impacted wisdom teeth are the most common source of pain related to wisdom teeth. Impaction is when your third molars become partially or fully trapped underneath the gums or in the jaw bone. While most toothache pain will subside on its own, impacted wisdom teeth will create persistent pain until removed. This pain can manifest in nearby teeth, your jaw, or as a headache. 

Damage to Your Other Teeth

Wisdom teeth can crowd or damage the teeth they surround and potentially push your other teeth out of alignment if they lack room. Additionally, wisdom teeth can cause diseases because they tend to be difficult to clean. 

Sinus Problems

Adults typically have 4 wisdom teeth, one in each quadrant of their mouth. Due to the proximity to your nasal cavity, wisdom teeth can sometimes cause pain, congestion, and potentially disease in your sinuses. 

Swelling

Wisdom teeth will often only erupt halfway, causing very uncomfortable swelling and pain to occur. Your gum tissue may continue to grow around your half-erupted teeth, making them even more difficult to clean. The leftover bacteria can cause infection, swelling, and discomfort when chewing. 

Read the Blog: Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed

What complications can arise if I don’t have my wisdom teeth removed?

Although you may feel like your wisdom teeth are fine now, complications with wisdom teeth tend to arise with increasing frequency in one’s early 30s, including:

  • Infection
  • Cyst formation
  • Possible crowding
  • Damage to adjacent teeth

Infection

Dentists often see pericoronitis, a localized gum infection, when there is no room for total eruption of the wisdom teeth. The gum tissue can become irritated and infected, resulting in pain, swelling, and issues with chewing. 

Cyst Formation

If your wisdom teeth become impacted, you may experience the formation of cysts or fluid-filled “balloons” inside the jaw bone. These cysts can slowly expand and destroy adjacent jawbones and potentially other teeth. If your teeth are not removed in your teenage years, cysts can be very difficult to treat. 

Possible Crowding

Impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to the overcrowding of your teeth, most noticeably with the front teeth and often seen after a patient has had braces. The primary reason for extracting wisdom teeth in teenagers is to prevent potential overcrowding in the future.

Damage to Adjacent Teeth

Wisdom teeth are often difficult to clean around and will often adversely affect the second molar resulting in gum disease, bone loss around the tooth, and possible decay. 

How do I prepare for wisdom teeth removal?

On the day of your surgery, you will take prescribed medications that can help with post-op pain and swelling. It is essential that you do not eat or drink anything for a minimum of 6 hours before your surgery, as having a full stomach causes an increased risk for anesthetic complications; such as nausea and vomiting. Since you won’t be able to drive yourself home, make sure to bring a responsible adult with you to your surgery and ensure they are available for the rest of the day in case of emergency. Because of anesthesia and medications, you will experience drowsiness for the majority of the day.

How are wisdom teeth removed?

While the exact procedure process may look different depending on the situation you are facing with your wisdom teeth, the overall process looks the same. 

  1. The dentist or oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum to expose the bone and the tooth.
  2. They will remove any bone blocking access to the tooth’s root.
  3. If necessary, they will divide the tooth into sections. 
  4. They will extract the tooth from your mouth.
  5. The removal site will be cleaned of any debris caused by the bone or tooth. 
  6. The site will be stitched up if deemed necessary.
  7. Gauze will be placed over the removal site to control bleeding. 

The wisdom teeth removal process should not be painful because of local anesthetics. However, if you do feel pain during the removal process, let your dentist or oral surgeon know. Those who choose full sedation should not feel or recognize any of the removal process. 

What does wisdom tooth removal recovery look like?

The recovery period for wisdom teeth removal is typically between a few days and a week long. Post-op care is extremely important for wisdom teeth removal in order to prevent any infections or possible complications. You can expect the following:

  • change the gauze in your mouth periodically to manage bleeding 
  • swelling and pain, but both should be managed by taking the prescribed pain medications
  • when you resume eating, start with soft foods, such as jello and broth, and try to avoid any surgical sites
  • consume high-calorie and high-protein foods to limit the number of times you eat per day
  • avoid rinsing for 24 hours post-op, but rinse your mouth with salt water 5-6 times the next day
  • bruising and discoloration should resolve within 14 days

Is my wisdom teeth removal covered by insurance?

Wisdom teeth removal can be expensive, but your dental or medical insurance may cover a portion or all of the costs if the removal is deemed medically necessary. At the Memphis Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we never want finances to prevent our patients from receiving the proper care, so we offer multiple financing options, including Special Payment Options, Credit Card Payments, Care Credit, and most dental insurance companies. 

Contact the Memphis Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry

Dr. Moore and the Memphis Center for Cosmetic Dentistry can determine whether or not wisdom teeth removal or extraction is necessary for maintaining optimum oral health. Request a consultation today.

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