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Woman with sore wisdom teeth

Do I Need a Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

  • When do wisdom teeth grow in?
  • How do you know if your wisdom teeth are infected?
  • Can a wisdom tooth infection go away on its own?
  • What you need to know about wisdom tooth extraction surgery

Has your dentist told you that you need a wisdom tooth extracted?

Never fear! We live in an age when tooth extraction – including your wisdom teeth – is more comfortable for the patient than ever before. It’s definitely a wise alternative to putting up with pain from an infected or impacted wisdom tooth.

Many people know they have wisdom teeth – the teeth at the very back of the top and bottom of your mouth – but don’t know much about them, or how important their extraction can be for your long-term oral health.

When do wisdom teeth grow in?

Unfortunately, having wisdom teeth doesn’t automatically make you wiser – nor does not having them make you less wise! 

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that appear in the final stages of adolescent development, usually between your late teens and early twenties. That’s why they’re called wisdom teeth – because they grow in around the time you reach maturity, and are “wiser” with adulthood. 

That seems to be the only thing “wise” about them, especially nowadays. Many anthropologists believe that early man needed them due to their diet of roots, leaves, meat, and nuts to prevent wear on the other molars. Today, we can cook food to soften it, or break it up using utensils, so wisdom teeth have become somewhat unnecessary for properly chewing food. 

Perhaps one day we won’t even grow them anymore, but for now, we need to take care of them as we do our other teeth.

What can wisdom tooth pain mean?

Wisdom teeth can grow in without any complications, but can still be the source of several oral health issues, such as:

  • Gum inflammation: This condition, also known as pericoronitis, is caused by food or other foreign materials getting caught in the tissues surrounding a partially erupted wisdom tooth.
  • Impacted wisdom teeth: Wisdom teeth that only erupt partway through the gums can be subject to inflammation, pain, and infection, and if coming in sideways can put undue pressure on adjacent teeth, potentially forcing them into other positions and increase their risk for decay.
  • Infected wisdom tooth: Wisdom teeth are set far back into the mouth, keeping them clean can be a challenge, which can result in painful tooth decay, periodontal disease, or infection
  • Cysts: Cysts can form around impacted wisdom teeth as part of an immune reaction, but can result in nerve issues in your jaw or sinus issues such as congestion, pain, and pressure as the cysts push into the sinus cavity

In any case, always make an appointment with your dentist if you’re feeling any sort of wisdom tooth pain. They will let you know the “root” cause of the problem, and the best course of treatment to pursue.

Remember, wisdom tooth infections can’t be brushed or flossed away, and will need professional dental help to be treated properly before the situation gets worse. 

Do I need a wisdom tooth extraction?

If your wisdom teeth are causing you extreme pain and undue discomfort, chances are you’ll have to have them extracted.

However, if your wisdom teeth aren’t bothering you at all, your dentist might still recommend removing them to prevent problems from occurring down the road.

Why go through wisdom tooth extractions if your teeth aren’t bothering you? Although no dentist can predict your future oral health with 100% certainty, there are several reasons why they might recommend wisdom tooth extractions, such as:

  • Even if you don’t have any wisdom teeth symptoms, they could still harbour disease and cause infection
  • They’re difficult to clean due to their placement in your mouth
  • Having the surgery while younger before the tooth further develops and makes the extraction of these teeth more complex. 
  • Older patients may experience more difficulty and complications with dental surgery, and have a longer wisdom teeth recovery time

The good news is that if you do undergo wisdom tooth extractions, they’re so far back in your mouth that replacement of these teeth is unnecessary so, no dental implants needed!

Your dentist will present all of your options to you and answer all of your questions so you can make an informed decision on whether a wisdom tooth extraction is a good option for you.

Wisdom tooth extractions

Your dentist will take x-rays of your teeth to determine the best way to extract the tooth. In general, there are two types of tooth extraction procedures:

  • Simple extraction: This involves your dentist loosening the tooth and using forceps to remove it
  • Surgical extraction: Your dentist will start with a small incision to prepare for the tooth to be removed

Antibiotics may be administered prior to the procedure, and local or general anaesthesia can be applied to increase your comfort during the procedure. It’s normal to feel anxious about any type of surgery, so be sure to openly discuss your needs with your dentist during your consultation.

You might also need stitches, depending on the surgery. Your dentist will tell you after the extraction if they used self-dissolving stitches, or the type that need to be removed at a subsequent visit.

Once the procedure is complete, you might feel a little discomfort as your mouth heals naturally. Your dentist will offer you a prescription to help manage any discomfort. You can also increase your comfort by:

  • Rinsing your mouth several times per day (starting a few days after your procedure) with one 8-ounce glass of warm water containing one teaspoon of salt to reduce swelling and keep the area free of bacteria
  • Biting down on gauze to manage bleeding
  • Brushing and flossing carefully around the extraction area
  • Sleeping with your head propped up to control bleeding
  • Getting rest

Click here for more tips on how to make recovery easier from your wisdom tooth extraction surgery.

Wisdom teeth recovery time might vary from patient to patient, but you can generally expect to feel like yourself again after about three days. In the meantime, treat yourself to lots of ice cream – you deserve it!

Wisdom Tooth Extraction at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto

If you’re experiencing wisdom tooth pain, or feel any discomfort with your mouth, be sure to act quickly before the problem gets any worse. Also, be sure to tell your dentist during your regular check-up about any problems you’re having with your wisdom or other teeth. 

If you or a loved one have any concerns about your wisdom teeth or overall oral health, or just want to come in for a check-up to maintain and protect your beautiful smile, give Yonge Eglinton Dental a call today at 416-932-2222 or visit us online to book an appointment. We’d love to see you!

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