Joking aside, wisdom teeth actually do come with age — that’s how they get their name! For most people, permanent teeth come in between the ages of 6-7, but wisdom teeth (also known as the third molars) start to come in between the ages of 17-24.
I’ve helped many patients through the wisdom teeth removal process over the years and know that it can sometimes come with some skepticism and anxiety. A few of the questions my patients commonly ask me about wisdom teeth include:
- Why are wisdom teeth so commonly removed?
- Does wisdom teeth removal hurt?
- And what’s the recovery like, anyway?
In today’s blog post, we’ll review all of this and more. Let’s get started!
Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?
In this scenario, the third molars still try to grow in — but because there’s not enough space, they grow in crooked or even sideways. This often causes teeth to shift or overcrowd as they try to make room for the wisdom teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth
Sometimes, the wisdom teeth get stuck and never fully erupt above the gums. These are called “impacted” wisdom teeth. “Great!” you’re probably thinking. “As long as the wisdom teeth don’t grow above the gums, I won’t need to get them removed, right?” Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Impacted wisdom teeth become trapped in the jaw, and can cause pain, discomfort, tooth shifting, and even tooth damage if left where they are.
Increased risk of tooth decay or gum disease
In instances where the wisdom teeth partially come in, barely erupting above the gum line, there’s an increased risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease around this and nearby teeth. These teeth are often difficult to clean and care for.
Here at The Winning Smile Dental Group, we won’t recommend wisdom teeth removal unless they are causing problems (or we think they might). So if your wisdom teeth are growing properly and are not…
- Causing you pain
- Overcrowding your teeth
- Making it hard to brush or floss your teeth
We likely won’t recommend removal.
How do you know if your wisdom teeth need to be removed?
- Mild pain in the jaw
- Swollen gums behind the back molars
- Trouble opening the mouth wide
- Bad breath
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Frequently biting your tongue or cheek when you eat (indicating your teeth are in the process of shifting)
These expected symptoms are pretty common with wisdom teeth. However, sometimes there are more serious signs that may require you to see a dentist as soon as possible. Here are some of those signs to look out for:
- Teeth that feel loose or are noticeably shifting
- Gums that are visibly receding
- Swollen cheeks
- Increased tooth sensitivity
However, wisdom teeth, especially if they’re impacted, won’t always show clear symptoms that they need to be removed.
That’s why it’s important to maintain your regular 6-month dental exams here at The Winning Smile Dental Group. Each exam includes dental x-rays, which makes it easy for me and our educated team to spot wisdom teeth as they are trying to grow in.
Whether you’re experiencing some of the above symptoms, or it’s been awhile since your last 6-month dental exam, contact us today to schedule your appointment!
Does wisdom teeth removal hurt?
Our comfort-first approach includes:
- A relaxing office environment
- A variety of amenities for your comfort, including noise cancelling headphones and TV
- A friendly team ready to answer any questions you have
- Sedation options that help quell anxiety and wear off shortly after the procedure
How long does it take to get your wisdom teeth removed?
Not sure what that means for you? We’ll always make sure to talk through exactly what to expect before any procedure.
Recovery from wisdom teeth removal
For most people, it takes about 3-4 days to recover from wisdom teeth removal, but it may take up to a week or more depending on the case. During that time, you should plan to take it easy — limit any activity that may irritate the stitches and incision site and stick to a diet of soft foods.
If you’re like me and have occasionally daydreamed about eating mashed potatoes for a few days straight, you’re in luck! Following the removal procedure, we typically recommend a diet of things like:
- Mashed potatoes
- Cottage cheese
However, it’s important not to use a straw to consume any of the soft foods for at least a week after your wisdom teeth have been removed. This can irritate the incision site and cause a delay in healing.
Wisdom teeth coming in? Contact The Winning Smile Dental Group today!
Dr. Pambianchi is a graduate of Delta State University and the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. He went on to complete a residency in advanced education in general dentistry from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. His focus is on providing expert care that contributes to the overall wellbeing of his patients.