Written by: Dr. Rawad Serhan
Your third molars, better known as wisdom teeth are the final teeth to erupt in the mouth. They show up at the top and bottom jaws between ages 17-25. Some of us lucky people may not even develop any, others may have them erupt perfectly fine with no problems.
Wisdom teeth are not necessarily bad teeth. We may choose to monitor, or recommend to just keep them where they are so long as they erupt normally and are easily accessible with a tooth brush and floss to keep clean. However, more often than not our jaws do not have enough room to allow the teeth to erupt fully, resulting in what we call impacted wisdom teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth don’t grow in straight, rather they grow in different directions leading to one or more of the following symptoms: pain, gum inflammation, tooth decay on the wisdom tooth or to your adjacent teeth, developing a cyst around the tooth, or even compromising orthodontic treatment.
How long should I wait before deciding to remove my wisdom teeth?
There is no time window per se, however, it is generally much easier to remove your wisdom teeth while you are younger for various reasons such as having less dense bone the younger you are, and less complications with healing and surgery.
Will I Be Awake?
You can have your wisdom teeth removed under either Local Anesthetic (Awake), or General Anesthetic (Asleep). It all comes down to preference, comfort, and how difficult the case appears to be. There are also other modalities to help such as mild sedation with laughing gas (nitrous oxide).
When Do I Have to see a Specialist?
A referral to a specialist is not always necessary, however, there are some cases in which your dentist may recommend it. A Significant and complicated medical history, wisdom teeth approximating your Inferior Alveolar Nerve (Risk of Paresthesia), the need for General Sedation, are all common reasons to be referred out to a specialist.
Will I Feel Pain During the Procedure?
No, with the use of local anesthetic you should not feel any pain during the procedure.Throughout any procedure, no work will ever be done if a patient can feel any pain. We strive to make sure our patients are always comfortably numb.
How long is the recovery? Can I go to work the next day?
Recovery time varies from patient to patient, however, it usually takes 2-3 days, with some cases requiring up to one week. It is best to take work off on the day of the procedure as well as the following day.
Depending how difficult the extractions were, it is best to usually take the same day off, and rest up the following day. Avoid any heavy lifting or exercise to ensure that proper healing is not interrupted. Recovery time does vary on a case to case, and patient to patient basis. Overall, recovery time should be within 2-3 days, up to a week maximum.
Overall, wisdom teeth removal is a minor surgery that does not necessarily have to be such a traumatizing and dreadful experience. With today’s technological advances and anesthetics available, these procedures are routinely done with positive outcomes.