When I say “surgery”, the things that come to mind are probably doctors dressed in their blue scrubs, knives, the smell of antiseptic and blood—a lot of blood… Well “surgery” is indeed a scary word. It’s likely the reason why many fear or even avoid at all costs to get a wisdom tooth surgery even when they feel wisdom teeth pains.
This begs the more important question “Should you remove your wisdom tooth?”
First things first, here are some things you should know before you make a decision:
Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure
First, the corresponding area is numbed with anaesthesia. Then, the gum above the tooth is cut opened. Next, the tooth is cut into smaller pieces for easy removal. After the molar is removed, the gum is stitched close.
Additionally, the patient can be asked to return for a second visit for the removal of stitches. Stitches are usually removed 1-2 weeks after surgery.
Wisdom Tooth Removal Complications
While wisdom tooth extractions are one of the most common dental surgeries and usually take only 45 minutes or less. Every surgery comes with its own risk of complications.
Here are some possible complications after a wisdom tooth surgery:
- Dry Socket (also known as alveolar osteitis) —Normally after the tooth extraction, a blood clot will form to aid recovery. In certain circumstances, the blood clot does not form or is dislodged before the wound is fully healed. The exposure of underlying bones and nerves then causes intense and throbbing pain as well as bad taste and smell coming from the empty tooth socket. This condition can occur from anywhere between 1-3 days after the surgery with studies showing that smokers are more susceptible to this condition
- Numbness (also known as paresthesia)—This condition results in temporary loss of feeling to the tongue, lip or jaw and occurs due to nerve damage during surgery. It normally lasts a few days to weeks but in rare circumstances numbness could be permanent due to severe nerve damage
- Pain, Swelling & Restricted Mouth Opening—This is very typical after a wisdom tooth extraction although its extent varies for each individual. Dentist may prescribe medication to curb issues with pain or give advice like using an ice pack to reduce swelling. Those who had extracted an impacted wisdom tooth are said to be more likely to experience restricted mouth opening. *Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that are not able to erupt through the gums
- Excessive Bleeding—Bleeding may occur and persist a few days after the surgery but it is relatively common and doctors will advise against doing strenuous exercises and smoking after the surgery. Additionally, your dentist might provide gauze to be placed at the extraction site to reduce bleeding
Before you click away…know that there are 2 sides to the same coin.
Problems of NOT getting a Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Growing wisdom teeth (also known as erupting) have been reported to cause an array of problems especially if they are partially erupted or impacted. These problems are likely to develop if one does not undergo a wisdom tooth extraction.
- Tooth decay—Irregular positioning of wisdom teeth makes it much harder to clean and can cause food to be stuck easily. This will allow cavities to form which can cause tooth sensitivities and ache.
- Gum Disease (also known as pericoronitis)—Similarly, the difficulty of cleaning wisdom teeth can also increase one’s risk of bacterial infection that will result in bleeding and inflamed gums.
- Shifting and damage to neighbouring teeth—The erupting wisdom tooth can push against its neighbouring molars which may result in an overcrowding problem. This can increase one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease as well as crooked teeth especially within that region.
- Cysts or tumours under gums—Cysts are a closed bag of tissues which could be filled with air or other soft material/fluid. These cysts have an inflammatory nature which can weaken the bone structure of that affected tooth and even go on to damage the roots of neighbouring teeth.
Wisdom Tooth Symptoms
The above problems can cause you much pain and discomfort that manifest in the form of these symptoms:
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Jaw ache
- Jaw swelling
- Bad breath
- Difficulty opening mouth
A famous philosopher once said “Prevention is better than cure” and in this case, the best way to prevent these problems and minimize damage to your teeth, is to go for a wisdom tooth extraction.
The benefits you stand to reap from a mere 45 minutes of surgery go a long way in safeguarding your oral health.
It is understandable for you to still regard a wisdom tooth extraction as scary. Therefore, you can be discerning in terms of choosing your dentist. Choose a dentist that you can trust to carry out the procedure. With the peace of mind, you can help yourself feel more comfortable and at ease when undergoing the wisdom tooth extraction.
Here at Vivid Dental Surgeons, we aim to educate our patients on matters regarding oral hygiene and health. Especially amidst this COVID-19 period, we encourage everyone to stay safe and maintain good oral hygiene. Let’s all do our part in keeping the community and ourselves healthy.
If you are interested in learning more, click here to read other related articles on our blog. Dr Ryan is also open to answering any questions you have regarding oral health matters, drop him a message here.
Dr Ryan and the Vivid Dental Team wishes everyone a pleasant and virus-free day ahead! 🙂