The development of wisdom teeth, or third molars, is different for every person. Some people don’t develop wisdom teeth at all! Sometimes, wisdom teeth pose a threat or a problem to the health of surrounding teeth or to the overall health of the patient. In these cases, the wisdom teeth must be extracted, or removed.
The removal of wisdom teeth is a very simple, in-house procedure performed by the dentist or oral surgeon. It doesn’t require an over-night stay, and may take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the particular case.
Do I have to be put to sleep?
Some patients have wisdom teeth that are already completely erupted, but are currently having issues such as gum infection or tooth decay, and the conditions are too severe or it is too late to save the tooth. In this case, the extraction of the wisdom tooth will be similar to any other tooth extraction. Local anesthesia will be applied near the tooth, and the tooth is simply pulled out.
More complicated cases, such as impacted (stuck) wisdom teeth, or the removal of all four wisdom teeth at the same time, require a general anesthesia along with the local anesthesia. Nitrous oxide ( laughing gas ) may be used to calm anxious patients, and the general anesthesia will put the patient to sleep during the procedure. Local anesthesia will still be applied to the areas of teeth extraction.
How are wisdom teeth removed?
If wisdom teeth are fully erupted, then the removal is similar to any other tooth. It is simply wiggled and pulled out. For impacted teeth, the oral surgeon will need to open the gum tissue and possibly remove part of the bone covering the tooth if the tooth is submerged under it. After part of the bone is removed, the tooth is wiggled out and the tissues connecting the tooth to the bone are detached. Sometimes the tooth is in a complicated position, and the oral surgeon will first cut the tooth into pieces so that it is easier to remove.
Will I have stitches?
It is sometimes necessary to get stitches, usually when removing lower impacted wisdom teeth. There are two types of stitches, ones that dissolve on their own, and ones that require removal by the dentist after a few days. Your dentist will let you know which ones are used.
What happens next?
Before leaving the office, you will be given post op instructions, as well as any anti-bacterial rinses or pain relieving medication that you will need. You will also have a post op check up appointment scheduled for the following day, when the dentist will make sure that you are healing well. Make sure to get plenty of rest, follow all post op instructions, and you will be well in no time!