Wisdom Teeth Los Angeles

Wisdom TeethThe third set of molars is often referred to as wisdom teeth.  Most people get these teeth in their late teens to early twenties.  These teeth can often be misaligned, but sometimes they are an asset to the mouth.

If wisdom teeth are not properly aligned, they can cause problems such as crowding adjacent teeth, the nerves, or the jawbone. Debris can become entrapped between the second molars and wisdom teeth, causing decay.  Wisdom teeth can become impacted:  that is, they only partially erupt and are trapped in soft tissue, allowing for the possibility of an infection.  Gum disease and decay are also possible in partially erupted teeth because the awkward location makes brushing and flossing problematic.

Wisdom Tooth Removal

If your wisdom teeth are not properly aligned, your dentist may send you to an oral surgeon for an evaluation and possibly their removal.  The difficulty or ease with which wisdom teeth are removed depends on where they are.  If a wisdom tooth has fully erupted, or “come in,” then it is as easy to remove as any other tooth.  However, extraction is easier in younger patients because the roots are not fully developed.  Recovery and healing from an extraction takes less time in a young person than in an older patient.

If wisdom teeth are under the gum and embedded in the jawbone, they are more difficult to remove.  In this case, an incision is made in the gum and the tooth extracted.  Sometimes impacted teeth are removed in small sections in order to minimize the amount of bone removal.

When wisdom teeth are removed, a local anesthetic is used to numb the tissue around wisdom teeth. You may also receive additional medication such as “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide), an oral sedative such as Valium, or an intravenous sedative.  If you receive an oral or intravenous sedative, you will have to have someone else drive you home from the appointment.

Recovery from Wisdom Teeth Removal

The speed of your recovery will depend on how complicated the removal was.  A simple extraction will heal more quickly than the removal of an impacted tooth.  Generally speaking, you may bleed for several hours post-extraction.  A clean, moist piece of gauze or a moistened teabag will help control the bleeding.  You should apply constant pressure for about 45 minutes, repeating the process until the bleeding stops. If you continue to bleed heavily, contact your dentist or oral surgeon.

Avoid sucking actions (no smoking or drinking through a straw) for 24 hours, and avoid hot liquids.  These activities can dislodge a blood clot.  If you have facial swelling, you can apply ice for 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off, for 24 hours.

Over-the-counter pain medications should control minor pain; your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend a narcotic pain reliever.  You will likely be prescribed an antibiotic as well. Continue to brush your teeth, but avoid the area of the extraction during the first 24 hours.  Do not use over-the-counter mouthwashes (Your dentist may prescribe a mouthwash for you to use).

Follow all of your dentist’s recommendations about wound care and stitches care.  If you do n t have self-dissolving stitches, you will need to follow up with your dentist or oral surgeon for their removal.

Complications Following Removal of Wisdom Teeth

Dry socket can occur when no blood clot forms in the extracted tooth socket or the clot becomes dislodged. This generally happens 3 to 4 days post-extraction and is accompanied by pain and foul breath.  Dry socket is treated by direct application of medication at your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office. Another complication is paresthesia.  This is not a common complication, but it can happen if the nerves where the wisdom teeth were removed are damaged during the extraction process.  Paresthesia results in a numbness of the chin, lip, or tongue.  It can last a few days, a few months, or it may be permanent.

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