Your third molars, commonly known as your wisdom teeth, are typically the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. If healthy and functional your wisdom teeth can be useful. However, there are also reasons behind why you may need to consider removing your wisdom teeth. In some cases, wisdom teeth are healthy, yet because of orthodontic treatment, they need to be removed.
In other cases, your wisdom teeth can become impacted or only partially erupt through the gum in a misalignment. When impacted or partially impacted, your wisdom teeth can cause swelling, pain and even infection of the surrounding gum. They can also put pressure on the adjacent teeth, which can result in permanent damage to these otherwise healthy teeth and their surrounding bone. Sometimes, impacted or partially impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to the formation of cysts, and in worse case scenarios even tumors, which could potentially destroy an entire section of your jaw.
Lastly, a fully erupted wisdom tooth needs to be removed because it is very hard to clean and can become severely decayed. So for these reasons sometimes the smart move is to have your wisdom teeth removed.
Whether your dentist or a specialist is performing the extraction the procedure is the same. First, a local anesthetic is given to make the procedure more comfortable. In some cases your doctor may elect to administer nitrous oxide gas in addition to the anesthetic or use a general anesthetic to put you under entirely.
Once the area is numb, the extraction begins. A dental instrument called an elevator is used to wiggle the tooth in its socket. After the tooth is loosened it is removed using forceps or in some more complicated cases, a surgical handpiece is also used to assist with the removal of the tooth.
Like most other procedures, tooth extraction is not free of possible complications. You should be aware that there is a slight chance of infection, tenderness, prolonged bleeding, dry socket and loosening of neighboring teeth or their fillings or crowns.
Another rare possibility is of an upper tooth getting displaced into the sinus. Lastly, jaw fracture and temporary or permanent numbness is also very rare possibilities.
When should you have your wisdom teeth removed? There is no single right answer for everyone; however, if your dentist has advised you that your wisdom teeth look potentially problematic it's generally best to remove them sooner rather than later.
This advice is based on the fact that the younger you are, the faster you heal. The likeliness of lingering numbness, jaw fracture or other complications also increases with age. Lastly, the longer you leave a troublesome wisdom tooth in your mouth, the longer it has to cause further problems in the future.
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