Many of us aren’t fans of going to the dentist. We get it. Especially when the topic is removing teeth. But if you talk to your dentist about wisdom teeth the next time you go in for a cleaning, he or she will clear up any misgivings you might have.
As we’ve discussed before, wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars in the back of your mouth.
They develop the most during our teen years. More specifically, between the ages of 18 and 22. But they can be an issue throughout your life. Especially if they become misaligned (even horizontally), and start jutting against other teeth, or worse, become infected.
Wisdom teeth are also awkward to clean, leading to bacterial buildup, and issues like gum disease. That’s especially true if the wisdom teeth have emerged partially through the gum.
Some of us might be able to leave them alone. Most of us, though, as we go through life, will need to have them removed, says HealthOne’s Dental Director, Dr. Sunny Gill.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Signs
Dr. Gill says you could be in your 30s, 40s, or older, when you have them removed. There’s no age limit to getting a procedure done. But he does add he’s always looking to examine wisdom teeth in patients during those teen years, because at that point they haven’t fully developed yet.
That’s the ideal time so you don’t develop complications and they become a bigger problem later in life. As any dentist will tell you, you’ll thank him or her later in life if you get proactive earlier on.
If you’re among the majority, then, what are the signs that tell you it’s time to have them removed?
1. Swelling or Inflammation Around the Gums
Look for reddish, swollen areas along the gum line as an indication it’s time to have them removed.
“We need to take a look inside the mouth to see what is happening,” Dr. Gill says. “We’ll take an x-ray, to see if the issue is deeper in the bone. Then we’ll make an assessment about the next strategy, maybe leave some of the gum tissue there so the tooth can come out naturally. But more often than not we are looking at a strategy of removing the teeth.”
2. Pain in the Back of the Mouth
Pain coming from the area is the most obvious sign your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Is there a throbbing sensation at all? Maybe you feel pain when you’re eating or brushing your teeth.
3. Teeth Are Misaligned or Not Straight
This is especially true for older patients. Since there isn’t a lot of room at the back of the mouth, often wisdom teeth grow in and push against the next row.
There are even situations where the tooth grows at a right angle to the other teeth. It’s like the tooth is “lying down” within the jawbone.
They can become impacted – sometimes sitting right below the gum tissue, or halfway in, halfway out. Impacted wisdom teeth lead to a whole host of dental problems. They need to be removed.
If they’re crowding the mouth, they can damage neighbouring teeth. Crooked teeth are a sign you have a problem.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Pain
If you’re in pain, and you go see the dentist, Dr. Gill says there are several things you can do to manage that, until they can get the procedure done.
“We may prescribe some antibiotics to let things calm down, then a week or so down the line, once the pain subsides, re-evaluate,” he says.
Another thing you can do is go home and rinse the area with warm water and salt. That’s an effective way of killing off bacteria. Doing so three or four times per day is what a dentist usually recommends. Over-the-counter medication like extra strength Advil also works.
“Sometimes you might feel pain running from the jaw up towards the ear,” Dr. Gill says. “That’s a sign as well.”
Impacted Wisdom Teeth Removal
As Dr. Gill has said in the past, most of the time the procedure is done with a local anesthesia. Sometimes the patient is put to sleep but that’s rare, only for situations where impacted wisdom teeth have caused more serious problems for the patient.
Dr. Gills says his fastest time for a procedure was just a few minutes. His longest procedure was around an hour.
The dentist will cut into the gum tissue to reveal the tooth and bone and will remove bone if he or she can’t get at the wisdom tooth root. They might remove the tooth intact or cut it into sections and remove it that way.
The dentist will clean the site and stitch you up. Stitches are dissolvable, in around 10-14 days, so they don’t need to be removed.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Cost
The cost to remove wisdom teeth is not covered by OHIP. You’ll need dental insurance for that.
Costs vary, according to Dr. Gill, and can run you anywhere between $200 to $600 per tooth, depending on the complications.
Overall, the procedure is straightforward and common, depending on complications. HealthOne has a great team of doctors and surgeons who are very experienced and skilled at wisdom teeth removal, for a swift and relatively pain-free experience.
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