Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars that most people receive in their early twenties. These teeth can be assets to the mouth when properly aligned, but more often, they require removal.
When wisdom teeth are misaligned, they may position themselves awkwardly. Poor alignment of wisdom teeth can crowd or damage teeth, the jawbone, or nerves and keep you from chewing properly.
Wisdom teeth also can be impacted, enclosed within the tissue, jawbone, or only partially erupt through the gum. Partial discharge of the wisdom teeth makes them a bacteria magnet, which will enter around the tooth and cause infection. Pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness are all symptoms of infection of the wisdom teeth. These teeth are also more prone to tooth decay and gum disease because the location and awkward positioning makes brushing and flossing difficult.
During your routine dental visits your dentist may take an X-ray periodically to evaluate for the presence and alignment of your wisdom teeth. Your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon for further evaluation. Usually your teeth are recommended for extraction before a problem develops to avoid more painful complicated extraction in the future. Removal is easier when you’re younger because the teeth roots are not fully developed and the bone is less dense. When older, the recovery and healing time tend to be longer.
The ease at which your oral surgeon can extract your wisdom teeth depends on their position and stage of development. A wisdom tooth that has fully erupted through the gum can be extracted easily. However, a wisdom tooth that is embedded in the jawbone will require an incision into the gums.
Recovering and healing from the extraction occurs between three to five days. It is normal to have some bleeding from the site considering the surgical procedure performed. Pain medication is often prescribed to help with postoperative discomfort. An ice pack and mild pain medication prescribed by surgeon is enough to provide pain relief.