The last four permanent teeth, known as wisdom teeth, which erupt in the upper and lower jaws' rear corners, can occasionally cause discomfort, infection, and other dental problems, prompting removal. When there is no room in your mouth for growth, dentists advise having wisdom teeth removed. They become affected, unpleasant, and potentially infected if allowed to grow. But to avoid more tooth issues and infections, a general dentist/oral surgeon must carefully remove them. Even when the teeth are not bothering you, your dentist can occasionally advise wisdom tooth removal.

It helps to work alongside an experienced general dentist if your wisdom teeth have started developing or are already painful or infected. Your dentist will examine them and recommend the best treatment. Our team at Washington Dental comprises highly skilled and experienced general dentists and oral surgeons. We can advise you if you suspect you need wisdom teeth extraction in Lomita. We will help you understand the treatment process, what to expect before and after treatment, and how to care for your remaining teeth and mouth afterward.

Reasons for Wisdom Teeth Extraction

All your teeth play an essential role in your mouth, including tearing, chewing, and giving you a beautiful smile. But some problems with your natural teeth can necessitate extraction. For example, the growth of wisdom teeth sometimes calls for extraction if they cause you pain, infection, or other dental-related problems. It is advisable to work closely with an experienced general dentist to determine some issues with your natural teeth and treat them before they escalate.

Wisdom teeth are your third molars and the final permanent teeth to erupt in your mouth. They usually occur when you are 17 to 25 years old. Only some people develop wisdom teeth. Other people do not have enough space in their gums to accommodate more teeth. Like all the other molars, some people who develop wisdom teeth usually experience minimal issues. But other people experience problems with wisdom teeth when they become impacted. Impacted teeth lack enough room on the gums to erupt and develop normally like other teeth.

An impacted wisdom tooth can erupt partially; other times, it does not erupt. An impacted tooth can grow in any of these ways:

  • Toward the adjacent (second molar) tooth.
  • Towards the back of your mouth.
  • Parallel to the jawbone.
  • Straight like the others but remains entrapped within the jawbone.

When one or more wisdom teeth fail to grow as they should, they could cause pain as they squeeze their way out of the gum. The pain intensifies and could cause inflammation as the tooth continues to erupt. Inflamed teeth can become sore and infected. Remember that oral infections can spread quickly within the mouth, resulting in grave issues like gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Problems You Could Experience With Wisdom Teeth

The need to extract wisdom teeth does not come automatically. You have to experience some issues with your developing wisdom teeth for your dentist to recommend extraction. Here are some typical problems that could necessitate wisdom tooth extraction:

Painful Eruption

Talking to an experienced general dentist is advisable if a developing wisdom tooth becomes painful. Your dentist will examine the developing tooth to establish the cause of the pain and recommend treatment. In most cases, dentists recommend extraction if there is a problem with how the wisdom tooth develops. Leaving it to continue growing will likely result in more pain and other issues, like inflammation and infection.

Trapped Food

Trapped food particles and other debris can cause significant problems affecting oral health and overall well-being. If you experience trapped food and other remains behind your mouth, where your wisdom teeth are developing, you should speak to your dentist. Trapped food particles in the mouth are the leading causes of cavities and severe infections like gingivitis. If the area where your wisdom tooth is developing is challenging to keep clean, your dentist can recommend a wisdom tooth extraction. That should eliminate the possibility of more trapped food in the mouth.

An Infection

An infection in your mouth will likely occur due to trapped food particles and debris in the mouth. The remaining food particles combine with the bacteria in your mouth to cause an acidic reaction that causes inflammation and infection. If the area where the wisdom teeth are developing is infected or you have contracted gingivitis or periodontal disease, your dentist can recommend wisdom tooth extraction to prevent further infections.

Tooth Decay

Remember that wisdom teeth do not develop the same way as other teeth. Since they are usually the last teeth to erupt, they sometimes do not find enough space in the mouth to erupt as they should. Sometimes they grow crookedly, leaving large spaces between them and the teeth nearby. Those spaces trap more food and are very difficult to clean. That is why these teeth are at risk of developing cavities. If one or more of your partially developed wisdom teeth have tooth decay, your dentist will recommend extraction.

Damaged Adjacent Teeth

Sometimes erupting wisdom teeth cause damage to adjacent teeth as they squeeze their way out and onto the limited space on the gums. If you notice damage to a tooth nearby or experience pain, and your dentist notices it during an examination, they can recommend extraction. That will save the already developed and healthy tooth from further damage.

Your dentist will also recommend extraction if a developing wisdom tooth is causing damage to the surrounding bone.

Dental Cyst

A dental cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can develop next to a developing wisdom tooth. Left untreated, it can cause a severe dental infection and tooth loss. After removing the cyst and treating the area where it had developed, your dentist can recommend wisdom tooth extraction to prevent the same problem from recurring.

Problems With Orthodontic Restorations

Your dentist can recommend extraction if you have undergone orthodontic treatment and a developing wisdom tooth affects it. Orthodontic treatment aims to straighten or align crooked and crowded teeth. Developing wisdom teeth can push the teeth under treatment, making it impossible to achieve the desired results with orthodontic treatment.

Remember that wisdom tooth extraction is not recommended for all dental patients with developing wisdom teeth. Some general dentists will not recommend extraction if your wisdom teeth are not causing problems. But it is difficult to tell how impacted teeth will affect your other teeth and oral health in the future. Most skilled dentists recommend preventive extractions for the following reasons:

  • Non Problematic wisdom teeth can still cause diseases since they develop in difficult-to-reach areas for adequate brushing and flossing.
  • In most cases, there is limited space on the gums for developing wisdom teeth. Even if they squeeze their way out, the area where they erupt will be painful, sometimes sore, and challenging to keep clean.
  • Serious complications caused by wisdom teeth are prevalent in adults.
  • An older adult will experience difficulties with surgical treatment and the complications that come with it.

What Are The Risk Factors?

Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical treatment that could result in complications. You should be aware of its risk factors to be prepared for treatment and make an informed decision. Typically, the extraction of a wisdom tooth does not result in serious complications. But removing an impacted tooth can require surgical treatment that entails creating an incision in your gum and removing some bone material. Here are some of the complications you could experience:

  • A very painful socket (the part where the impacted tooth was extracted). The pain could result from an exposed bone when you could have lost the post-treatment blood clot from the socket.
  • When trapped food remains in the extraction site, it can combine with bacteria in the mouth to cause a severe infection before the socket completely heals.
  • Damaged adjacent teeth, jawbone, nerves, or sinuses.

Preparing for Wisdom Tooth Removal

Like every treatment, your dentist will ensure you are well-prepared for the treatment process before beginning it. A skilled general dentist will walk you through the treatment process, explaining what to expect and dispelling your fears. They will answer all your questions and ensure you are relaxed before starting the treatment.

The extraction can occur in the dentist’s office. But if your wisdom tooth is immensely impacted or its extraction needs an intensive surgical procedure, your dentist can refer you to a skilled oral surgeon. Note that your dentist will first conduct a deep examination of your teeth and mouth to understand the seriousness of the matter and recommend the best treatment approach. Thus, they will discuss any concerns with you before embarking on the treatment journey.

Since tooth extraction can be painful and uncomfortable, your dentist/oral surgeon will first administer local anesthesia to help you go through the treatment with minimal issues. Sometimes oral surgeons recommend sedation to ensure the process is more comfortable and less painful.

Here are some of the concerns you should raise with your dentist before undergoing surgical treatment for wisdom tooth extraction:

  • The number of wisdom teeth that require removal.
  • The kind of anesthesia you will receive.
  • How intricate the procedure can be.
  • How lengthy the treatment process will be.
  • If the impacted wisdom tooth/teeth have affected your other teeth, the best treatment option for the damaged adjacent teeth.
  • If there is a risk of experiencing nerve damage after treatment.
  • Other treatments you will need in the future following wisdom tooth extraction.
  • The length of time it will take before you completely recover and resume everyday activities.

Preparing for Surgical Treatment

The extraction of wisdom teeth is always an outpatient treatment procedure. Since it does not involve hospital stays, you can go home on the same day of treatment. Your dentist/oral surgeon will instruct you on what to do before surgery. Here are some of the preparations you can make before the treatment to ensure a smooth treatment process and recovery:

  • You can arrange to have someone drive you to the dentist’s office and back after the treatment.
  • Note the time you need to be at the dentist’s office and arrive at a good time.
  • Ask your dentist what you need to eat, drink, or avoid eating or drinking before the procedure. If you need to fast, ask when you should begin the fast.
  • If you are taking some prescription medicine, discuss it with your dentist to determine whether you should continue before the procedure. If the medication can affect your treatment process, discuss with your dentist when, before the procedure, you can take the medicine.
  • Ask about nonprescription drugs and whether or not you should be taking them right before the treatment.

The Treatment Process

The treatment process will begin with a quick exam by the dentist/oral surgeon to ensure they have the correct report and recommendation before starting the process. The dentist/oral surgeon will administer anesthesia if their findings are accurate. They have three anesthesia options to choose from based on the likely intricacy of the procedure and your desired comfort level. These options are:

Local Anesthesia

If your dentist chooses local anesthesia for you, they will administer it through an injection close to the extraction site on both sides of the tooth. But before administering anesthesia, your dentist will apply a numbing substance to the gums to make the injection more bearable. With local anesthesia, you will be awake the entire time. Although you will experience movement and pressure as the dentist extracts the tooth, the process will not be painful or uncomfortable.

Sedation Anesthesia

If your dentist or oral surgeon chooses sedation anesthesia for you, they will administer it through an IV line. This kind of anesthesia will suppress your consciousness, helping you go through the treatment process without pain or discomfort. In addition to not experiencing pain, you will not remember the treatment process. Your dentist will also numb the gums using local anesthesia.

General Anesthesia

This option is only given in specific situations. If your dentist recommends it, they can require you to inhale the anesthesia through the nose, administer it through an IV line, or do both. After its administration, general anesthesia will cause you to lose consciousness. A surgical team will be nearby to monitor the medication, your temperature, breathing, blood pressure, and fluids during treatment. Since you will be completely unconscious, you will not experience any pain and will have no recollection of the process. You will also be given local anesthesia to help you deal with post-treatment discomfort.

After administering anesthesia, your dentist/oral surgeon will proceed with the following treatment process:

  • Create an incision in your gum to reveal the impacted wisdom tooth and the jawbone beneath it.
  • Remove any bone material that could be blocking their access to the impacted tooth’s root.
  • Divide the impacted tooth into smaller sections if it is difficult to remove as a whole.
  • Remove the impacted tooth.
  • Clean the area where they have removed the impacted tooth, ensuring that they completely remove any remains from the bone or tooth that could remain on that site.
  • Stitch the socket to promote the healing process (this process is entirely optional).
  • Place gauze over the treatment socket to minimize bleeding and help with blood clotting.

What To Expect After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

If you received general or sedation anesthesia before the treatment, your dentist would send you to a recovery ward after the surgery. That will allow you to rest as the anesthesia wears off. Since local anesthesia wears off quickly, you will need a brief recovery period in the dentist’s chair. Before leaving the dentist’s office, your dentist will give you instructions to help you speed up your recovery at home. These instructions will be on the following:

How To Manage Bleeding

Your bleeding will not stop when you leave the dentist’s office. You will still experience some bleeding a few hours after the extraction. Your dentist will instruct you to minimize spitting to avoid dislodging the clot from the surgical site. You will need to replace the gauze placed on the extraction area, as recommended by the dentist.

Managing Pain

Your dentist will send you home with pain relievers to help you manage the pain as the extraction site heals. If not, you can buy some pain reliever medicines over the counter, like acetaminophen. Pain medication will be helpful if part of your bone is removed during treatment. Your dentist could also sometimes instruct you to place a cold pack on your jawbone to relieve some pain.

Managing Bruising and Swelling

You will experience soreness and sometimes swelling at the extraction site. Your dentist can recommend using an ice pack to manage the swelling. The swelling on your cheek will likely improve in a few days following the extraction. But the bruising can take several days to heal completely.

Resuming Activity

Taking some time off from regular activities to rest after the surgery is advisable. You can rest the entire treatment day and plan to resume everyday activities the following day. But throughout that week, it is best to avoid strenuous work that could cause you to lose even more blood from the extraction site.

What To Drink

Drinking plenty of water and other beverages after the treatment is advisable. But avoid alcoholic, carbonated, caffeinated, and hot beverages for at least 24 hours post-surgery. Also, avoid drinking from a straw for the week following the surgery. A straw requires a sucking action that can dislodge the clot on the extraction site, causing more bleeding and derailing the healing process.

What To Eat

After the procedure, your dentist recommends soft foods like applesauce and yogurt. That could work for 24 hours after the extraction. You can introduce semi soft foods slowly after that, gauging how you tolerate them. It is best to avoid chewy and hard foods or spicy and hot foods that could remain trapped in the extraction site.

Cleaning The Mouth

You must not brush your teeth following a wisdom tooth extraction, but you can rinse it with mouthwash. After 24 hours, you can resume regular brushing and flossing. But be very gentle when brushing near the extraction site. After bruising, rinse the mouth with salty water after meals or every two hours. That can continue for one or two weeks.

Tobacco Use

Your dentist will advise you on habits that could delay your healing after the extraction. For example, if you are a tobacco smoker, they could advise you not to smoke for three days post-surgery. If possible, you can avoid smoking for a much longer period until the extraction site is completely healed.

Those who chew tobacco can stop chewing for about a week. Tobacco can prolong healing and raise the likelihood of experiencing complications after a surgical operation.

Taking Care of the Stitches

Today, dentists use stitches that eventually dissolve after a week or more. Other times, they do not use stitches. But you must book an appointment if the dentist needs to remove your stitches. That could be a few weeks after the treatment.

When To Contact Your Dentist

If you encounter these symptoms, you should contact your dentist immediately. They could indicate nerve damage, an infection, or any other severe complication:

  • Fever.
  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
  • Severe pain that does not go away with pain medication.
  • Swelling that intensifies after a day or more.
  • An awful taste in the mouth that does not go away even after rinsing with salty water.
  • Loss of feeling or numbness.
  • Oozing pus from the extraction site.
  • Pus or blood in nasal discharge.

Find a Competent General Dentist Near Me

Do you or someone you love have problematic wisdom teeth in Lomita that require extraction?

You need to see a skilled general dentist right away to determine the exact problem with your developing wisdom teeth and the best treatment option. Your dentist will conduct a general examination of the wisdom tooth, your other teeth, gums, and bone to devise the right treatment plan for you. At Washington Dental, we recommend extraction for problematic wisdom teeth and preventive extraction for non problematic wisdom teeth to avoid future issues. We also walk you through the treatment process to prepare you for what to expect before, during, and after the extraction. Call us at 310-326-5183 to learn more.