Have you heard your dentist begin to mention your wisdom teeth? Maybe they made an appearance in your most recent dental x-rays and indicated they were ready to come out. If you don’t know much about wisdom teeth or why you might need an extraction, you likely have tons of unanswered questions. To help you prepare for your next dental appointment and a wisdom tooth extraction, our team at StarImage Dental Boutique and Oral Surgery has provided answers to frequently asked questions about wisdom teeth.

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What are Wisdom Teeth?

The first and most commonly asked question by patients is what exactly are wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars and actually the toughest, widest set of teeth that are able to grind food. It’s believed that wisdom teeth existed to help our ancient ancestors chew coarser food than we do today such as nuts and leaves.

Does Everyone Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 22 and include two teeth on top and two on the bottom. However, not everyone gets wisdom teeth or gets all 4. It’s possible to either never get wisdom teeth or only have one or two come in. Only time will tell whether or not you have wisdom teeth.

What are the Signs You Need a Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

Unless your dentist tells you that it’s time to extract your wisdom teeth, you might not know whether it’s time or not. Thankfully, there are a few signs you can watch for that indicate you might need an extraction.

  • Swollen gums
  • Gum pain
  • Bleeding gums
  • Jaw swelling
  • Bad breath
  • Jaw aches
  • Headaches
  • Unpleasant taste when eating
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Jaw stiffness

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Urbanek.

Why Should I Remove My Wisdom Teeth?

If you get an extra set of teeth, why would you have it removed? That’s one of the questions patients ask us. For starters, not every patient needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, although it’s not too common. In most cases, wisdom teeth need extractions because there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate them, or they’re impacted.

What are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

Impacted wisdom teeth are unable to erupt through the gums because there is not enough room or they’re growing incorrectly. For instance, if your wisdom teeth decide to grow at an angle, they won’t erupt because other teeth are in the way and there is not enough room. Instead, impacted wisdom teeth remain below the gums and cause tons of problems.

What Happens If I Don’t Remove Them?

If you need your wisdom teeth removed and you don’t remove them, a number of problems can occur. For one, the teeth can become infected. This can cause swelling, pain, and problems with chewing and swallowing.

When there isn’t enough room for your teeth to grow in, the teeth can damage adjacent teeth. The pressure from the wisdom teeth onto the adjacent molar can also begin to push all the teeth together which can result in crowding of all teeth.

Lastly, when you don’t remove wisdom teeth, they can also cause cysts in the jaw bone that can destroy the jawbone and damage surrounding teeth.

Basically, if you don’t extract your wisdom teeth when you need to, it can lead to pain, infection, and a multitude of consequential gum problems down the line.

When’s The Best Time to Have Wisdom Teeth Removed?

As soon as your dentist says they’re ready to come out. Make sure to keep up with bi-annual cleanings and exams so your dentist can keep an eye on your wisdom teeth. Also, try to pay attention to symptoms you experience because they can also indicate when it’s time.

How Do I Manage Pain After Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

We recommend that patients apply a cold compress to their jaws following tooth extractions, several times per day. In addition, it’s helpful to take over-the-counter pain medications in addition to the pain medication we prescribe you.

What Aftercare Instructions Do I Need To Know?

To ensure proper recovery, we recommend following these instructions after your wisdom tooth extraction.

  • Apply ice to the jaws consistently for 20 minutes on/20 minutes off for the first 24 to 36 hours to reduce swelling
  • Take pain medication as directed
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a liquid or soft food diet for the first few days
  • Don’t smoke or drink through a straw
  • Avoid brushing in the extraction site
  • Avoid swishing and spitting when rinsing after brushing
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water 5 to 6 times per day

How Long Does Recovery Take?

Most patients feel back to normal two weeks after their wisdom tooth extraction.

Get Wisdom Tooth Removal in Southlake

If you think you might need a wisdom tooth extraction or another dentist has told you that you need one, Dr. Urbanek, StarImage Dental Boutique and Oral Surgery’s oral surgeon is happy to help. Please contact our Southlake, TX dental office at (817) 587-4414 to book a consultation today.