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Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom Teeth Removal

Your wisdom teeth don’t make you wise. In fact, you’re often wise if you have them removed. This third set of molars were useful when humans lived in caves and ate tough foods that needed extra grinding, but modern-day people don’t need them to survive. 

In fact, while some people’s wisdom teeth emerge normally through the gum tissue between ages 17-25, for many they only cause a range of oral health problems, requiring a dentist or oral surgeon to remove them.

At Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi, oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Michael Nichols and our team are well versed in wisdom teeth and their removal. Wisdom teeth are more prone to extraction than any other teeth, so we want our patients to understand the problems they can create, as well as what you can expect during and after the removal process, should that be necessary.

The problems with wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are like the new kids on the block; by the time they erupt, your other 28 teeth have already settled comfortably into place, and there’s often not enough room for four large, new teeth to fit in comfortably.

Sometimes that means a wisdom tooth can only erupt partially through the gum tissue. When that happens, food can easily become trapped between the tooth and gum, making it more difficult to brush and floss and keep the area free of infection and decay.

However, even if your wisdom teeth do erupt through the gum tissue completely, they can still cause problems. They can emerge at an angle. They might scrape against your cheeks or gums, causing sores. And they can cause pain by pushing against other teeth.

Wisdom tooth problems tend to occur more often after age 30. That’s because as the teeth develop, their roots grow longer, and the jawbone becomes denser. That means removing impacted wisdom teeth (teeth unable to erupt) after your 30s leads to a higher risk of complications and a longer recovery period. Dentists and oral surgeons sometimes proactively extract wisdom teeth while you’re still young if they know they’ll cause you difficulty in the future.

Some common problems of not removing wisdom teeth include:

Removing your wisdom teeth

Dr. Nichols performs all wisdom teeth extractions as outpatient surgical procedures using IV sedation, which keeps you comfortable and mostly unaware of what’s happening during the procedure. It usually takes 30-60 minutes, depending on how many teeth he has to remove and how impacted they are.

We ask you not to eat or drink for six hours before the surgery because of the anesthesia. And since you’ll still be a bit groggy afterward, you need to have a responsible adult with you to drive you home.

First, we start an IV to deliver the anesthetic. We also give you some local anesthesia once you’re asleep; it keeps you numb enough so you can get home and rest. You may or may not need stitches, depending on whether Dr. Nichols had to cut the gum tissue to access the tooth root. If you do, we generally use the type that dissolves in 7 to 10 days and doesn't require removal.

Postoperative care

We give you complete, written postoperative instructions, a prescription for a strong painkiller and an antibiotic (if necessary), a recommendation for an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, and a contact number in case you have a problem. We make a follow-up appointment in one week so Dr. Nichols can ensure everything’s healing well.

You shouldn’t drink with a straw or smoke for at least 48-72 hours following the extraction, as both can dislodge the blood clot that forms over the tooth space, causing dry socket syndrome, an extremely painful condition.

You can expect some minor bleeding and pain the day after surgery, and any swelling you experience usually peaks by the third day. You can limit the swelling by applying an ice pack to your cheek on and off throughout the first day. Most patients feel like they’re on their way to recovery in 3 to 5 days. Make sure you schedule in that amount of downtime before resuming your normal routine.

If your wisdom teeth are causing problems, or you think they need to be removed, give Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi a call at 601-282-9290 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Nichols.

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