Posts for: November, 2013
Not long ago, Glee star Lea Michele had all of her wisdom teeth removed. This is a very common procedure that people in their twenties, like Michele, often undergo to prevent serious dental problems down the road. The actress found that the procedure really was actually not very difficult to tolerate.
“Feeling all better from my surgery!” she tweeted to fans a few days later. “Back to work tomorrow.”
Why do wisdom teeth so often cause problems? For one thing, they come in years later than the other 28 permanent teeth — usually between the ages of 17 and 25. By that time, there is often no room in the jaw to accommodate them. As man has evolved, the jaws have actually become smaller in size — often creating a lack of space for the wisdom teeth to erupt into proper position. If wisdom teeth become blocked (impacted) by other molars that are already there, infection and damage to neighboring teeth may result.
Sometimes the wisdom teeth themselves cause the problem by growing in at an odd angle. They push against other teeth, often compromising the adjacent tooth's supporting bone. While you would think pain would occur if any of these problems were present, that does not always alert us to a wisdom-tooth problem. It's usually diagnosed with the help of x-rays.
Wisdom tooth extraction is often performed in the dental office using a local anesthetic (numbing shot) to keep you from experiencing any pain, along with conscious sedation to help you relax. The type of anesthesia that's best for you will be determined before the procedure.
After we gently remove the tooth or teeth, you may need to have the site sutured (stitched) to promote healing. You will rest for a short time before going home, and may need to have someone drive you, depending on what type of anesthesia you were given.
Once you get home, you should apply an ice pack on the outside of your cheek for about five minutes on, five minutes off for as many hours as possible to help reduce any postoperative swelling on the first day. Starting on the second day, the warm moist heat of a washcloth placed on the cheek and hot salt water rinses will make you more comfortable. You may want to eat soft foods and brush your teeth very carefully during the recovery period, which lasts only a few days as Lea Michele discovered. Before you know it, you'll be “feeling all better!”
Many people view a tooth extraction (removal) as a major ordeal; but from a dentist’s standpoint it’s a routine procedure. That’s not to say, though, that all extractions are alike — there are varying levels of complexity depending on the type, size and location of the tooth.
Teeth are held in place to the jawbone by a tissue known as the periodontal ligament, whose collagen fibers attach the tooth to the bone of the jaws. By gently manipulating the tooth, we can release the hold that these fibers have on the tooth. This takes not only skill but also a kind of “feel” that comes with experience.
From that point, removing the tooth will depend on its root structure and how it’s positioned in the jaw. Upper front teeth have a single, straight root usually shaped like a cone; their path of removal is relatively straight and uncomplicated. Many teeth in the back, however, have more than one root, and not as straight in shape as an upper front tooth, that complicates the path of removal. Depending on the level of complication, the extraction may require an oral surgeon, a dental specialist.
After the tooth is extracted, it may be necessary to fill the socket (the area of the bone once occupied by the tooth) with some form of grafting material that will encourage bone growth. This new growth will aid with any future plans for dental implants.
After the procedure, we will give you instructions for cleaning and caring for the extraction site as you recover over the next few days. We may also prescribe medications to help you cope with discomfort and swelling, as well as antibiotics and antibacterial mouth rinses.
Before undertaking any extraction, we would first conduct a thorough examination and provide you with your options and our recommendations for treatment. We would also discuss your options for replacing the teeth after theyâ??ve been extracted.
The thought of having an extraction may fill you with anxiety. But in the hands of an experienced professional, removing a tooth is a routine and safe procedure.
If you would like more information on tooth extractions, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Simple Tooth Extraction?”