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What are wisdom teeth extractions?

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars in the back of your mouth. They usually come in between the ages of 17 and 25, and are spotted on x-rays. Oral surgery to remove wisdom teeth is a standard practice—almost a rite of passage—for young adults. Most people elect to have them extracted.

Why remove wisdom teeth?

When wisdom teeth create problems, or x-rays indicate issues down the line, they need to come out. Other good reasons to extract wisdom teeth include:

  • They’re impacted. Because they’re so far back in your mouth, wisdom teeth may not come in normally. They can be trapped in your jawbone or gums and be very painful.
  • They come in at the wrong angle and may cause crowding of teeth, which creates mouth pain, bite problems, and compels treatment to straighten other teeth.
  • Sinus Issues: Problems with wisdom teeth can lead to sinus pain, pressure, and congestion.
  • Inflamed Gums: Tissue around the area can swell and become hard to clean.
  • Cavities: Swollen gums can create pockets between teeth that encourage bacteria to grow and cavities to form.

What is involved in extracting wisdom teeth?

Following local, sedation, or general anesthesia, our oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone, before removing bone that blocks access to the tooth root. If it’s easier to remove in pieces, he will divide the tooth into sections, then remove the tooth. The site of the removed tooth is then cleaned of any debris from the tooth or bone, before the wound is closed and stitched to promote healing. Gauze is placed over the extraction site to control bleeding and help a blood clot form.

What kind of aftercare is advised?

Some oozing of blood may occur the first day after a wisdom tooth removal. Avoid excessive spitting, so as not to dislodge the blood clot from the socket. Replace gauze over the extraction site as directed. Here are some other tips:

  • Eat only soft foods, such as yogurt or applesauce, the first 24 hours. Start eating semisoft foods when you can tolerate them. Avoid hard, chewy, hot or spicy foods.
  • Drink lots of water after the surgery, and do not drink alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated, or hot beverages the first 24 hours. Also, don’t drink with a straw, because the sucking action can dislodge the blood clot from the socket.
  • Don’t brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, spit, or use mouthwash during the first 24 hours after surgery. Typically, you’ll be told to resume brushing your teeth after the first 24 hours, but do so gently.