While most people have their first two sets of molars by the time they’re about 12 years old, the third set, often referred to as wisdom teeth, typically erupt in your late teens or early twenties. Because wisdom teeth are prone to impaction, crowding, and other problems, they’re often removed to protect your oral health. At Le Chabot Dental in San Leandro, California, Dr. Andy Le and Dr. Robert Lu examine wisdom teeth and provide extractions when needed. Call or book your appointment online today.
It’s not always necessary to remove wisdom teeth. In fact, as long as they have enough room to erupt and form a proper bite relationship, wisdom teeth are just as useful as your other molars.
Unfortunately, wisdom teeth can be affected by a variety of problems, either before or after they erupt. Two of the most common reasons that wisdom teeth are extracted include:
Wisdom teeth that are impacted, or remain beneath the gums, usually don’t have enough space to erupt. Although this isn’t always a problem, it can become problematic if it causes pain and inflammation.
Partially erupted wisdom teeth act as a breeding ground for bacteria by allowing food to get trapped beneath your gums. In addition to potentially causing an infection, partially erupted wisdom teeth can be quite 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.
Wisdom teeth removal often is recommended at the onset of problems or pain, but if the team at Le Chabot Dental can see that wisdom teeth won’t have enough room to erupt, they may recommend early removal.
Removing wisdom teeth during the adolescent years is often a good way to avoid impaction or crowding problems, both of which can damage neighboring second molars.
Following the procedure, your body’s healing mechanisms form a blood clot to slowly fill in the bone where the teeth used to be. This part of the healing process usually takes about a day or so. During this time, it’s especially important to keep the extraction sites, or sockets, as clean and clear of any food debris as possible.
For the first 24 hours after your surgery, avoid rinsing your mouth to promote quick healing. The first time you do rinse, swish the water gently so you don’t damage the blood clot that’s still in the process of forming.
You can continue to brush your teeth normally as you heal, but take care to avoid the tender extraction sites and the surrounding areas.
Sometimes, a healing wisdom tooth socket becomes infected, causing a condition known as dry socket. 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 or unusual discomfort at any extraction site soon after having your wisdom teeth removed, make an appointment to see your dentist at Le Chabot Dental immediately.