What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the last molars on each side of the jaws. They are also the last teeth to emerge, or erupt, usually when a person is between 16 and 20.
Since wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to come in, or erupt, there is often not enough room left in your mouth to accommodate them. This can lead to wisdom teeth that are impacted, teeth that are trapped beneath the gum tissue by other teeth or bone. If teeth are impacted, swelling and tenderness may occur.
Wisdom teeth that only partially emerge or come in crooked can also lead to painful crowding and disease. Since teeth removed before age 20 have less developed roots and fewer complications. Dr. Jaleel recommends that people between 16 and 19 have their wisdom teeth evaluated to see if they need to be removed. Wisdom teeth are the last four of your 32 teeth to erupt. These teeth generally appear between the ages of 17 to 25. When one of these teeth doesn’t have enough room to come in normally, it is considered impacted. Teeth may become twisted, tilted, or displaced as they try to emerge.
Impacted wisdom teeth do not always show symptoms, meaning you could have impacted teeth and not even realize it. If symptoms do arise, it is usually the result of the gum on top of the tooth becoming infected or swollen. Symptoms may include pain, swollen and bleeding gums, swelling around the jaw, bad breath, headache or jaw ache, and an unpleasant taste when eating. Some people experience stiffness of the jaw or swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Annual dental appointments and x-rays can catch impacted teeth early before they start to show symptoms. Dr. Jaleel will most likely recommend surgery to remove the impacted teeth.
How are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
During the procedure
Your doctor or oral surgeon may use one of three types of anesthesia (Local anesthesia, Sedation anesthesia, General anesthesia). The appropriate anesthesia for you depends on the expected complexity of the wisdom tooth extraction and your own comfort level. Your options include:
During wisdom tooth extraction, Dr. Jaleel will:
- Makes an incision in the gum, creating flaps to expose the tooth and bone
- Removes any bone that blocks access to the tooth
- Divides the tooth into sections if it’s easier to remove in pieces
- Removes the tooth
- Cleans the site of the removed tooth of any debris from the tooth or bone
- Stitches the wound closed to promote healing, though this isn’t always necessary
- Places gauze over the extraction site to control bleeding and to help a blood clot form
After the procedure
If you receive sedation anesthesia or general anesthesia, you’re taken to a recovery room after the procedure. If you have local anesthesia, your brief recovery time is likely in the dental chair.
As you heal from your surgery, follow our instructions on:
- Activity. After your surgery, plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Resume normal activities the next day, but for at least a week, avoid strenuous activity that might result in dislodging the blood clot from the socket.
- Beverages. Drink lots of water after the surgery. Don’t drink alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages in the first 24 hours. Don’t drink with a straw for at least a week because the sucking action can dislodge the blood clot from the socket.
- Food. Eat only soft foods, such as yogurt or applesauce, for the first 24 hours. Start eating semisoft foods when you can tolerate them. Avoid hard, chewy, hot or spicy foods that might get stuck in the socket or irritate the wound.
- Pain management. You may be able to manage pain with a prescription pain medication — given by your doctor or oral surgeon — or an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Holding a cold pack against your jaw also may relieve pain.
- Bleeding. Some oozing of blood may occur the first day after wisdom tooth removal. Try to avoid excessive spitting so that you don’t dislodge the blood clot from the socket. Replace gauze over the extraction site as directed by your dentist or oral surgeon.
- Swelling and bruising. Swelling and bruising of your cheeks usually improves in two or three days. Use an ice pack as directed by your dentist or surgeon.
- Cleaning your mouth. Don’t brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, spit or use a mouthwash during the first 24 hours after the surgery. After that time, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours and after meals for a week after your surgery. Mix 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) of table salt in 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of water. After the first 24 hours, resume brushing your teeth, being particularly gentle near the surgical wound to avoid disrupting any stitches.
- Tobacco use. If you smoke, don’t do so for at least 24 hours after surgery — and wait longer than that if possible. If you chew tobacco, don’t use it for at least a week. Using tobacco products after oral surgery can delay healing and increase the risk of complications.
- Stitches. You may have stitches that dissolve within a few weeks or no stitches at all. If your stitches need to be removed, schedule an appointment to have them taken out.
Post-Surgery Day One
Dr. Jaleel will provide you with a care package for you to take home. It will contain after-care instructions, extra gauze and perhaps some pain relievers. You will leave the office with some gauze wads that have been folded and placed over the surgery sites to help stop the bleeding. Be sure to bite down gently but firmly on this gauze to make sure they remain in place – your other teeth should not be touching. Continue to apply pressure without “chewing” on the gauze. Try not to change them for the first hour unless the bleeding can not controlled.
Avoid: Using a straw, a wind instrument, whistling, cigarettes (smoke and smokeless varieties), blowing your nose or sneezing can all cause enough pressure to dislodge a forming blood clot. Try to avoid these activities for at least 72 hours. If you need to sneeze, do so with an open, relaxed mouth and throat.
Swelling of the surrounding mouth and face tissues is normal after surgery. You can minimize the effects of swelling with anti-inflammatory medications and by using ice packs. Cold packs can be purchased at most pharmacies or you can fill a zip-lock type of plastic baggie with ice. Wrap the ice pack in a small tea or hand towel and apply it firmly to your face or cheek adjacent to the surgery area. Do this in a 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off fashion for the first 48 hours after surgery. After 48 hours, we recommend that you switch from ice to moist heat and apply it to the same areas. If your dentist has prescribed you medication for the control of swelling, be sure to take it as directed.
Unfortunately, you may experience some degree of discomfort and swelling over the next 36 hours. If your dentist has prescribed any medication, have it filled by your pharmacy as soon as possible and begin taking it before your anaesthetic has had a chance to wear off. Some offices will call in your prescription to your pharmacy ahead of time so that it will be ready when you arrive after your appointment to pick it up. Ibuprofen products have anti-inflammatory characteristics and will help to reduce the swelling that usually intensifies pain. Most severe discomfort happens within the first 8 hours after the dental freezing has worn off. You can manage your pain by taking your medication as directed and refraining from activities that increase blood pressure.
You will probably just want to lie down and rest for the first day after surgery and this is the recommended post-operative protocol. Avoid all strenuous activities like exercise, heavy lifting or extended walking for the first 24 hours and limit your talking. When you rest, make sure that you recline in a position that allows your head to be elevated above your heart to help reduce bleeding and swelling. Using an extra pillow should take care of this. Protect your pillow from blood and saliva by placing a towel over it before you rest your head upon it. Do not fall asleep with gauze in your mouth.
Whether you return to work or school after 24 hours will depend on your health, recovery and how complicated your procedure was. Be sure to speak with your dentist about this and if you require an absentee note make sure you ask for one before your leave the office.
Any nausea that you may experience after surgery can be caused by the strong medications you are taking, hunger or by anxiety. You may not feel like eating, but some pain medications, such as ibuprofen, requires that you consume a small amount of soft food 15 minutes before taking them to avoid any stomach upset. Take your medication with an adequate amount of water and try to avoid dehydration as much as possible with clear liquids or non-carbonated soft drinks. Contact your dentist if your nausea or vomiting gets progressively worse.
Wait until you are alert and the numbing affect from the dental anaesthetic has worn off before you eat or drink anything to prevent choking or accidently biting your tongue, lips or cheek. Maintaining an adequate and nutritious diet is very important in your healing process and should not be avoided. Eat any nourishing food that can be taken with comfort, but remember to remove any gauze that you may still have in your mouth. Your diet during the first 48 hours following surgery should be restricted to liquids or pureed foods, such as creamed soups, puddings, plain yogurts, milkshakes, liquid meal replacements, etc. Avoid very hot foods and any type of smaller food items, like nuts, seeds, fruits with pectin/seeds, popcorn, etc. that can become lodged inside the surgery site.
Your level of comfort and tolerance will improve over the next several days allowing you to progress to more solid foods. It can take up to 7 days before you feel comfortable eating a regular diet. If you are diabetic, it is important for you to maintain your regular eating habits as much as possible and consult your family doctor about your insulin schedule.
For decades, having wisdom teeth removed was a rite of passage – one many high school graduates squeezed in before leaving for college.
The thinking was that it was best to lose those mostly useless, ill-fitting teeth before they caused infections or other trouble. Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, often are misaligned and impacted – fully or partly stuck below the gum line – because they emerge late, at ages 17 to 25, after the jaw has stopped growing and other teeth have filled the mouth.
Many teens and adults wonder if having their wisdom teeth removed is necessary. These third molars, after all, serve no purpose and often cause complications later in life. At the Fairlawn Dental Clinic in Ottawa, Dr. Jaleel is always happy to sit down with patients to discuss treatment options and what would best suit their needs. If you are wondering if wisdom tooth extraction is necessary for you, we’d like to help. Wisdom teeth that have become impacted or haven’t fully broken through the surface of the gum can cause dental problems. Food and bacteria can get trapped around the edge of the wisdom teeth, causing a build-up of plaque, which can lead to gum disease or other problems.
When is Wisdom Teeth Removal Needed?
When a wisdom tooth fails to erupt properly, it can actually grow in a variety of different directions, including toward or away from adjacent teeth. In other cases, it may become lodged within the bone of the jaw itself, a situation that may cause immense pain and even damage to the nerves deep within the jaw. In other cases, a wisdom tooth may erupt only partially, creating an opening in the gum tissue through which bacteria may cross and cause an infection. Symptoms of an impacted or infected wisdom tooth include:
- Localized pain
- Redness and inflammation of the gums
- Tenderness and bleeding
- Foul breath
- Swelling in the jaw
- A persistent and unexplained bad taste in the mouth
It is important to keep in mind that not all patients who have impacted wisdom teeth experience symptoms. Regular checkups at our office will help determine whether or not your wisdom teeth are likely to cause problems before you feel pain or develop an infection.
How Wisdom Teeth are Removed?
Before the procedure, you will usually be given a local anaesthetic injection to numb the area around the tooth. You’ll feel some pressure just before the tooth is removed, as your dentist or oral surgeon needs to widen the tooth socket by rocking the tooth back and forth. In some cases a cut (incision) may be needed in your gum and the tooth may need to be cut into smaller pieces before it is removed. The time it takes to remove the tooth will vary. Some procedures only take a few minutes, whereas others can take 20 minutes or longer. After your wisdom teeth have been removed, you may experience swelling and discomfort, both on the inside and outside of your mouth. This is usually worse for the first three days, but it can last for up to two weeks.
Schedule Your One-on-One Consultation Today
Whether your wisdom teeth have begun to erupt already or you are concerned that they may be impacted, we are here to help with a comprehensive selection of general, family, and restorative dentistry solutions. Contact our office in Ottawa today to reserve your appointment with our caring, experienced doctors. We look forward to talking with you, assessing your case, and recommending the treatment plan that best suits your unique needs.
2194 Carling Avenue, Unit 1
Ottawa, ON K2A 1H3
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