Wisdom Tooth Extraction: Q & A

Adults who have never had a dental extraction usually have 16 teeth in their upper palate and 16 in their lower palate. However, four of those teeth can quickly become problematic.

The last molars on each side of the upper and lower jaws are called wisdom teeth. These teeth sometimes do not fit properly in the mouth. If your mouth is not large enough to hold 32 teeth, your wisdom teeth may require extraction. Here are a few questions and answers about oral surgery to remove wisdom teeth:

Why shouldn't the wisdom teeth be left in place?

The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to present. In most cases, they do not align properly. They may grow in sideways, or due to the size of your mouth, your wisdom teeth may not be able to fully erupt.

The partial emergence of the teeth from the gums allows pockets to remain in the gums around the teeth. These pockets can hold bacteria and particles of food that generally cause infection. An infected wisdom may result in swelling and pain around the tooth. You may even experience stiffness in your jaw.

Wisdom teeth that remain in place may also apply undue pressure to your other teeth. Over time, this pressure can cause problems with your dental alignment.

How will my dentist know that my wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Your dentist may not need to wait for uncomfortable symptoms to present. He or she will regularly take oral x-rays during your routine dental visits. The x-rays should show the alignment of your wisdom teeth. Since these teeth are the last to erupt, they may not emerge until your teen years. However, the position of the wisdom teeth beneath the gums can still be seen on an x-ray.

Does wisdom tooth removal hurt?

The oral surgeon who completes your wisdom tooth removal will use anesthesia, such as nitrous oxide, general anesthesia or local anesthesia, to ensure that you are comfortable during the extraction.

What can be expected after the extraction of my wisdom teeth is complete?

Once your wisdom teeth have been removed, your oral surgeon will suture your gums at the extraction sites. He or she may ask you to bite down on a piece of gauze so that the gentle pressure will discourage excessive bleeding. 

Post-operative instructions are provided to help ensure that your mouth heals quickly. In addition, you may be provided with pain medication and antibiotics. You may also be required to return to the office for a follow-up appointment to have the sutures removed from your gums.

If you are having problems with your wisdom teeth, consult with a dentist in your area, like Wyoming Dental Specialties, to have them evaluated. Surgical extraction of the teeth can be performed quickly and safely.