Normally, you have three permanent molars on both the right and left side of your lower jaw, as well as on both sides of your upper jaw. Although your first two sets of molars are usually in by about the age of 12, your third molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, typically erupt in your late teens or early 20s. Wisdom teeth are usually removed if they’re impacted, crowding other teeth, or causing pain. At Red Bud Dental in Round Rock, Texas, Dr. Lisa Ochoa provides wisdom teeth removal services for patients from communities in the greater Austin metropolitan area.
When wisdom teeth come in correctly, meaning they have enough room as well as a proper bite relationship, they’re as useful as any of the other teeth in your mouth. Unfortunately, problems often affect wisdom teeth either before or after they erupt. Some of the most common reasons for extracting wisdom teeth include:
Impaction — Wisdom teeth that are impacted, or remain beneath the gums, typically don’t have enough room to erupt. Although this may not always be a problem, it may also cause pain and inflammation.
Partial eruption — Partially-erupted wisdom teeth act as a breeding ground for bacteria around the broken gum by allowing food to get trapped underneath the gums. In addition to possibly causing an infection, partially-erupted wisdom teeth can be painful.
Fully-erupted wisdom teeth may become candidates for extraction when they’re severely infected. Abscessed wisdom teeth and excessively decayed wisdom teeth are also commonly extracted.
Although removal of wisdom teeth often occurs at the onset of problems or pain, Dr. Lisa Ochoa may recommend earlier removal if she can tell that they can cause problems later. Getting your wisdom teeth removed during adolescent years is often a good way to avoid impaction or crowding problems, both of which can damage neighboring second molars.
Wisdom tooth extraction is an in-office procedure that’s typically done with local anesthetic. Afterward, your body’s healing mechanisms will slowly fill in the bone where the tooth was by forming a blood clot. This part of the healing process usually takes about a day or so. It’s important to keep the extraction site as clean as possible, keeping the socket clear of any food or debris.
For the first 24 hours after your surgery, avoid rinsing your mouth to promote faster healing. When you do finally rinse, do it gently so that you don’t damage the blood clot that’s still in the process of forming. You can continue to brush your teeth as you normally would, but take care to avoid the tender site and the surrounding area.
Sometimes a healing wisdom tooth socket can become infected. This condition, known as dry socket, can be painful, sometimes causing more pain than the original tooth.
Dry socket occurs when no blood clot forms in the empty tooth socket, causing the bony socket walls to remain exposed and open to infection. If you feel intense pain at the extraction site or pain that radiates through the nerves along the side of your face, see Dr. Ochoa immediately.