13 Mar Don’t Wait: Emergency Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Ten million wisdom teeth are extracted in the US every year according to the US National Library of Medicine. They also estimate that 30-60% of asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth will undergo emergency wisdom tooth extraction later on. When does your wisdom tooth become a dental emergency? Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars. Most people know by their 20s whether they have wisdom teeth or not. Some people may not have a full set of four and some people don’t have any wisdom teeth at all. Scientists understand that the need for the last set of molars has diminished over time due to softer foods and different culinary habits. This makes the size of our jaws smaller and the need for the molars decrease. For this reason, impacted wisdom teeth can be a real pain.
If you are not sure if you have wisdom teeth, especially if you experience pain in your back molars, it’s time to call us for a checkup for wisdom tooth extraction in Phoenix. Not all wisdom teeth need extractions. However, if you feel pain, call the dentist.
Do You Have a Wisdom Tooth Extraction Emergency?
There are different levels of critical care with wisdom tooth emergencies. Sometimes the tooth partially erupts above the gum line and causes an infection known as pericoronitis. In some cases, the tooth will partially erupt to the surface or stay beneath a soft layer of tissue where food may become lodged in it and cause an infection called operculum; this is also pericoronitis.
Typically by the time patients need an emergency extraction of a wisdom tooth it’s due to infection. Signs of this type of infection include swollen gums, pus or draining in the area, swelling along the side of the gum, and in some cases earaches.
Call your dentist immediately if you exhibit any of these signs. In some cases, the wisdom tooth will not be extracted immediately due to signs of infection like fevers and difficulty breathing. Antibiotics are often prescribed to stop the infection from getting into the bloodstream during extraction. If this occurs, extraction will be scheduled for a later date.
Complications of Wisdom Tooth Infection When Not Handled Immediately
Sometimes the infected wisdom tooth causes other dental problems and the need to handle the infection becomes urgent. If the wisdom tooth erupts at an adjacent angle to another molar, it could cause deep periodontal pockets, receding gums, and gum disease. The tooth will need to be removed so that you don’t lose teeth that are essential to your dental hygiene.
If your wisdom tooth erupts and crowds other teeth, it will need to be removed before too much damage or decay is caused.
The wisdom tooth may erupt in some cases without any problems, but they are difficult to clean. In most cases, pulling the wisdom tooth is recommended over fillings, crowns, or root canals. If you have a wisdom tooth that erupts without complications, continue to have it examined regularly to prevent any dental extraction emergencies.
What to Expect with Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom tooth extraction is a minor dental surgery. Local anesthesia is administered due to the severity of the procedure or your discomfort level. Some patients may choose a conscious sedation that blocks pain and removes most memory of the procedure. Work with your dentist to determine what method will work best for your situation.
When surgery begins, some tissue and bone around the wisdom tooth may be removed so that the tooth comes out clean from the socket. Then, several stitches close the area and dissolve in three to five days.
Recovery from Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Once your anesthesia wears off, pain or stiffness in the jaw may occur. Minor bleeding is not unusual in the first 24 hours. Patients may be prescribed pain medication and antibiotics. When you go home, apply an ice pack and take Tylenol to provide relief.
For the next few days, eat soft foods and avoid spicy foods. You will also want to avoid alcohol and tobacco use. Smoking will increase the odds of dry socket and prolong the healing at the area of surgery. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot at the healing site becomes dried out and dislodged and the bone is exposed.
It is important to follow all postoperative instructions to avoid further complications. Complete recovery could take three to four weeks. During that time, it’s important to rest and let your body heal.
If you think that you may need a wisdom tooth extraction, don’t wait. Make an appointment to have your teeth examined and to find a solution with your dentist. It’s better to take out your wisdom teeth now rather than wait for a true dental emergency.