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Wisdom teeth are located in the far back of your mouth. They are the last teeth to erupt, usually in your late teens or early 20s. Sometimes they are referred to as back or third molars.
Standard wisdom tooth removal is not considered a dental emergency. However, if one or more of your wisdom teeth are impacted, they may be causing you severe pain or discomfort.
Impacted wisdom teeth are horizontally aligned or angled. This causes them to come in misaligned. They can push on your other teeth or their roots, causing painful symptoms or even shifting of your teeth.
In these cases, you may need a dentist or oral surgeon to perform an emergency wisdom tooth removal.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause several painful symptoms, including:
Wisdom teeth are not visible until they begin to erupt. Annual X-rays are essential, especially during your teenage years. They allow your dentist to monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth eruption.
Wisdom teeth that partially erupt can cause a dental problem called pericoronitis. This condition is when gum tissue covers a portion of the tooth, trapping food and plaque debris.
It leads to inflammation and severe pain and can require antibiotics and an extraction to heal.
Some impacted wisdom teeth may partially erupt through your gums. Others may be very horizontally aligned and will never break through your gum tissue.
If you don’t remove impacted wisdom teeth, it can lead to long-term damage, including:
Wisdom teeth can push against your teeth, causing them to shift. They may become crowded or crooked. This can ruin orthodontic treatment such as braces or clear aligners or cause you to need further treatment.
If a wisdom tooth pushes against another tooth, it could cause a cracked tooth. This risk increases if you have a root canal or large filling on the tooth that is being pushed.
Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean, especially if they have partially erupted. They create tight spaces that are hard to get to with your floss or toothbrush. This may lead to tooth decay.
Because they are difficult to clean, infections commonly result from impacted wisdom teeth. Bacteria and food particles may get left behind and cause infections in your teeth or gums (dental abscess).
Gingivitis or periodontal disease may also result from impacted wisdom teeth.
Untreated impacted wisdom teeth can develop cysts around the tooth's crown, leading to dental problems in the adjacent teeth and bone.
Not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed. If your jawbone has enough room for them, and they are coming in straight, you may not need to have them extracted.
However, in many cases, wisdom tooth eruption can be painful and cause damage to your adult teeth.
If this is the case, you will need oral surgery to remove your wisdom teeth. Your dentist should be able to tell you whether or not you will experience issues with your wisdom teeth based on a panoramic or 3D X-ray.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth, you may require emergency dental care.
The oral surgeon won’t be able to perform a simple extraction on impacted wisdom teeth. They will need to perform a surgical extraction.
Methods and procedures will vary slightly depending on the practitioner.
Generally, here’s what you should expect for an emergency wisdom tooth extraction:
After the procedure, you will begin to slowly regain feeling from the anesthetic. This is the most painful part of the experience. But it can be managed easily with over-the-counter or prescription pain medication. You may also receive antibiotics to prevent infection.
It is normal to feel pain, swelling, and bleeding from your wounds in the following days. Pain typically ranges from mild to moderate and is rarely severe.
The blood clots at the extraction site may get agitated or break. These symptoms typically last 3 to 4 days, sometimes up to a week.
If they last longer than a week, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.
Warm salt water rinses and ice packs on your jaw are simple and effective ways to help manage pain during the days following wisdom tooth extractions.
While recovering, refrain from spitting, drinking from a straw, and smoking. Any activity that requires you to suck could cause a dry socket.
Dry sockets are when the blood clots disappear and expose the bone beneath your wound.
You should also stick to eating soft foods such as:
Avoid very hot or cold foods and liquids as well.
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