Wisdom teeth removal is the surgical removal of wisdom teeth, or the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens and early twenties. These teeth sometimes fit into the mouth and are properly aligned, but more often than not, are misaligned or ill-fitting and require removal. Without removal, they can cause more tooth decay or nerve damage. Some wisdom teeth never fully erupt through the gum or only partially break through the gum, resulting in impaction of the wisdom teeth.
Depending on their position, your wisdom teeth may be more or less difficult to remove. Your dentist will be able to give you an idea of what to expect during your pre-extraction exam. A wisdom tooth that has fully erupted through the gum can be extracted as easily as any other tooth. However, a wisdom tooth that is underneath the gums and embedded in the jawbone will require an incision into the gums and then removal of the portion of bone that lies over the tooth. Oftentimes, for a tooth in this situation, the tooth will be extracted in small sections rather than in one piece to minimize the amount of bone that needs to be removed.
Who is a candidate?
Candidates have partially erupted wisdom teeth that will not align in their mouth or may cause infection, nerve damage and tooth decay.
Who is not a candidate?
Candidates born without wisdom teeth or those who have a healthy alignment of wisdom teeth with the rest of their teeth do not require wisdom teeth removal.
An initial visit to a dentist is usually required. During that visit, your dentist will take X-rays and assess the need for removal. He or she will also determine how difficult removal will be. In preparation for wisdom teeth removal, your dentist may ask you to eat a light meal and reduce your fluid intake the night before surgery. If you are receiving nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or intravenous sedation, you will need to stop eating and drinking at least 6 hours prior to surgery. It is also important to brush and floss your teeth before the procedure.
Disclose all medications you are currently taking to your dentist, as certain medications, such as blood thinners, may interfere with your recovery. Otherwise, continue taking all medications as prescribed by your physician.
Wisdom teeth removal carries the same risk of discomforts that other forms of intensive dental surgery carry, such as swelling, bruising, pain and minor bleeding. You may need pain relievers. Most providers will prescribe over the counter pain relievers or stronger pain medication such as Vicodin. An antimicrobial mouthwash may be used to prevent infection.
You will need to avoid hard or crunchy foods while the site heals, for up to 14 days or more. Stitches may need to be removed a week and a half after surgery, or self-dissolving stitches may be used. Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with an irrigation syringe in order to flush out any food particles from the injury site, which are holes in the back of your mouth.
Risks associated with wisdom tooth removal are low. However, dry socket (failure of blood clot to develop in the tooth socket), nerve injury (pain and numbness), infection, and bleeding may all occur during the recovery period. This would require follow-up visits with your dentist or oral surgeon, but generally will subside with time for most patients.
Average US cost