Everything you need to know about wisdom teeth

One of the most common procedures in dental practice is the removal of wisdom teeth. It is noteworthy that this surgery is different for each person: some people have one tooth removed, some have four teeth removed at once; some are in severe pain after the procedure, and some return to habitual food consumption in just a week.

In this article, you will learn more about what wisdom teeth are, where they are located, why they cut come in, why they are needed, as well as the symptoms, nuances of surgery, and consequences after wisdom tooth extraction.

Wisdom teeth: where they are located and why they are needed

Another name you may have heard for these teeth is eights. They are so called because they are the eighth tooth in a row (starting with the front teeth). In total, the human body can have a maximum of 4 wisdom teeth, that is, 2 teeth on the top and 2 teeth on the bottom. But there are cases in which there may be 3, 2 wisdom teeth, or, with rare exceptions, they may be missing altogether. So when answering the question, "Does everyone have wisdom teeth?", the answer is that usually they do, but it is better to have an X-ray of the jaw to be sure.

Wisdom teeth are molars and are located behind all other teeth, closer to the throat. They are almost no different from the chewing teeth, except that the seventh teeth are usually in all people, and the eighth teeth may not come in for a very long time. Hence their name, wisdom teeth, because they begin to occur, usually between the ages of 18 to 35, that is, in the period of psychological maturity. It can last anywhere from a few days, up to a few weeks, up to several years. A tooth starts to come in, then "freezes" and can grow again after a while, so they can be tricky and unpredictable in this regard.

Wisdom teeth used to be needed by our ancestors to better chew the food they produced. As evolution progressed, the need for these teeth became less and less as the quality of nutrition improved and the overall size of the human body, including the skull, inexorably began to shrink. But the problem of evolution did not affect wisdom teeth much, so they continued to exist in the human body, albeit in "dormant mode".

How to explore that wisdom teeth are coming in?

Pain and gum inflammation

In most cases, patients begin to experience a nagging pain sensation when a wisdom tooth is coming in, which is unmistakable. Also, some notice that the hood of the wisdom tooth begins to become inflamed and itchy.

Pressure and pain in neighboring teeth

In some cases, you can tell if a wisdom tooth is growing right or wrong by the sensation in your jaw.  If the tooth is not coming properly, you will feel pressure on your chewing teeth while they are actively growing. Also, because the eight teeth are not growing properly, the entire tooth row can shift as well, as a result of pressure and "crowding out" of other teeth. Even if you have aligned your teeth with braces or used orthodontic aligners (or are considering doing so), all of your efforts may come to naught if your wisdom teeth begin to grow in the wrong position. Therefore, it is imperative that you have an X-ray of your jaw before orthodontic treatment so that your doctor can model what to do next.

What to do if the gum near the wisdom tooth is inflamed?

Don't rush to get your eighths removed right away, you may not need it. What you do need to do is make an appointment with an experienced dentist. He can tell you more about how to relieve wisdom tooth hood inflammation. Based on your situation, the actions may be as follows:

  • Flush the hood of the wisdom tooth

In this case, it will not be necessary to extract the wisdom teeth. The dentist cleans the gum (inflamed wisdom tooth region) with chlorhexidine or another antibiotic or antiseptic solution.

  • Incising the gum of a retained tooth

A retained wisdom tooth is an eight tooth that is fully or partially under the gum and cannot erupt normally. If you have a retained wisdom tooth, you won't need surgery to remove the eight teeth here either, as long as they are coming in properly. The dentist will simply make incisions in the gum with a scalpel or laser (with anesthesia, of course!). The scalpel will be a little more painful than the laser. Due to the instantaneous baking of the tissues by the laser, germs do not penetrate, which greatly reduces the chance of inflammation, swelling, and therefore, the level of pain.

  • Wisdom tooth extraction

Only your doctor can make the decision to extract an eight tooth based on gum inflammation after a consultation and a scan of your jaw. 

If there is no need for a complicated extraction, and your wisdom tooth still hurts, you can find out how to pain the wisdom tooth right away during the consultation. Note right away that with such pain, you will most likely need to take painkillers with antibiotics, and what kind - you will be prescribed by your dentist.

Do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Many patients wonder if it is necessary to remove a wisdom tooth, and it is usually unnecessary surgery if your teeth are growing properly and there is enough room for them to erupt. In such a situation, you will need to take painkillers and carefully monitor your oral hygiene to avoid causing inflammation and decay under the gum.

Also note that in order to have the surgery, you need to understand why wisdom teeth are pulled and what the indications for this should be. Here are the following:

  1. Cavities and inability to treat normally due to difficulty in accessibility;
  2. Orthodontic indications (before the installation of aligners or braces. In this case, a consultation with the doctor is absolutely necessary, because the removal of the wisdom tooth affects the bite);
  3. Any pain associated with the tooth coming in the wrong direction. For example, it is against the mucous membrane of the cheek and causes irritation to the mucous membrane;
  4. A feeling of constant pain and pressure on the jaw.

To summarize, if the eighth teeth do not bother you, they do not have any pathologies, cavities or orthodontic indications, then there is no reason to think about removal.

By the way, in the article "What to do if a wisdom tooth hurts" we talked about another plus of wisdom teeth, which doctors usually do not talk about, but it is quite an important observation.

How are wisdom teeth removed and does it hurt?

If you do have an appointment for an operation to remove the eighths, you need to prepare for it morally, because not all cases are easy and there are two options for the operation:

  • Removal of the eight by forceps (a typical removal)
  • Surgery that involves extracting the wisdom tooth from the bone (wisdom tooth extraction).

The second case is more complicated and painful. It is usually performed if the tooth does not grow upward but to the side, and it is necessary to pull it out because it is displacing the entire tooth row. In this case, you will have to cut the gum, open the bone, saw the tooth that has formed, pull it out piece by piece, and then sew the gum back up. 

In time, the operation to remove the wisdom tooth may last from 30 minutes to 2-3 hours, depending on the complexity of the case and on the number of teeth to be removed. One or all 4 teeth can be removed at a time. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is tremendous stress on the body, so not everyone can have a major operation at one time.

Answering the question, "Does it hurt to remove a wisdom tooth", it is worth saying that it all depends on your body and its tolerance to anesthesia. Removal of wisdom teeth can take place under general anesthesia, sedation, or anesthesia. The method of anesthesia should be chosen by a doctor who will take into account the peculiarities of your body and the complexity of surgical procedures.

Side effects of wisdom tooth extraction

Many patients fear what will happen to their face if their wisdom teeth are extracted. In fact, this procedure is not only fraught with the risk of asymmetry in your face after wisdom tooth extraction, but also with the possibility of even a jaw fracture. Therefore, keep in mind that sometimes, for lack of experience and the right tools, the price of removal can be lower than usual.

Read more about what risks can arise during the extraction of eighths here.

Just a note here that if you have any swelling left after a wisdom tooth extraction, don't be alarmed. It is usually the same as after any dental surgery, and it will go away in a couple of days to a week. And in order not to be in pain, your doctor will write you a prescription for painkillers.

author
ALEKSANDR MAKAROV
Dentist, surgeon, orthopedist
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