Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
The wisdom tooth is also known as the third molar which usually develops later in life or by the time an individual is wiser. Most people have wisdom teeth that commonly develop between the ages of 17 years to 25 years. There usually develop two wisdom teeth on the upper jaw and two wisdom teeth on the lower jaw. These wisdom teeth are normally found on the rear most portion of the oral cavity or the most end part of the dental arch.
The teeth are an important tool in the nourishment intake of the body with the primary function in the food mastication. The teeth also play an important role in speech aside from chewing. It is the hardest substance that can be found in the human body and each crown project into the mouth while the roots are embedded from the gum line to the jaw.
In human, a normal adult has 28 teeth not including the four third molars which are the wisdom teeth. The tooth normally begins to erupt by the age of 6 months to 12 months and these teeth are called primary teeth or more commonly known as baby teeth. A normal child generally has 20 primary teeth by the age of 3 years old or by the time all the primary teeth has erupted.
The permanent teeth start to break by the time a child reaches the age of 5 years to 6 years. The primary teeth are then being pushed out and replaced by the permanent teeth. By the age of 12 years to 13 years, all primary teeth have fallen down and replaced by the permanent teeth. There are about 28 permanent teeth in all while there are four additional teeth that usually develop later in life and which complete the set of 32 teeth in normal adults.
The wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth that generally grow later in life or by the age 17 years to 20 years. There are individuals however that does not have wisdom teeth although most of the general population has wisdom teeth at one point in their lives.
The wisdom teeth usually do not cause any dental problem although there are some individuals who prefer to have their wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth are generally removed if it causes any dental problems although not all wisdom teeth cause dental problems.
Wisdom tooth extraction is the surgical procedure indicated for removal of wisdom tooth or teeth that has become impacted or that has caused dental problem. Pain and discomfort are the usual cause of wisdom tooth removal. Impacted wisdom tooth is one of the most common causes that indicate removal. An impacted tooth is when a tooth is unable to break through the gums into the mouth usually when there is no enough room for the wisdom tooth to crown out into the mouth.
Other causes of wisdom teeth removal include the following:
- Growth of tumor or cyst in the gum where the wisdom tooth is developing
- Not enough space in the gums resulting to damage to nearby teeth
- Onset of gum disease and tooth decay
Wisdom teeth removal is generally performed by a dentist or an oral surgeon. The procedure is done in a dental clinic and the patient is usually put under local anesthesia although the type of sedation depends on the extent of the problem the wisdom tooth has caused and will also depend on the overall health status and preference of the patient. An X-ray procedure called a panorex is usually required prior to the procedure to identify the wisdom tooth that needs to be removed.
After the panorex or X-ray procedure has been done and the type of anesthesia has been chosen, the patient is then put under anesthesia to numb the area of the wisdom tooth or teeth to be extracted. The procedure starts with removal of the gum tissue that is covering the area of the wisdom tooth. An incision is made over the gum covering the wisdom tooth in case it is impacted. The idea of incision is to uncover the wisdom tooth to be removed. In wisdom tooth that has erupted into the mouth, the connective tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth is usually loosened to be able to remove the tooth.
The wisdom tooth is then removed from its socket once sectioning has been completed or if the connective tissue is already loose and the tooth is ready to remove. The wisdom tooth is removed from its socket using a surgical instrument designed for use in tooth removal. A pressure is commonly felt after the socket has been widened prior to tooth extraction.
A stitch may be done after the tooth has been extracted to help in the healing and close the area of an extraction. A surgical stitch is usually done to close the incision site where the impacted wisdom tooth has been removed.
Wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most common surgical procedures and normally takes less than an hour to perform. It usually takes 20 minutes or less in simple procedure while it may take longer than 20 minutes for a more complicated case of the wisdom tooth. Postoperative care is given after the procedure has been completed.
It usually takes several days for recovery following tooth extraction although the length of recovery time varies depending on the extent of the problem and the overall health status of the patient.
A dissolving stitch is commonly used to close the incision site and it takes about a week or ten days for the stitch to completely dissolve. After the procedure, the incision site is generally put on with pressure by applying gauze over the incision site and by instructing the patient to bite on their jaw to keep the pressure. This is to ensure that no blood clot will develop over the incision site which may bring problem to the patient after the extraction has been performed.
Swelling and bruising is normally expected after tooth extraction and these generally improve in two to three days. On the other hand, the patient can go home right after the anesthesia has subsided and no complication has occurred. In general, it usually takes a several days or one week for the incision site to completely heal and the patient can resume normal activity although strenuous activities are to be avoided until complete healing.
The cost of wisdom teeth removal depends on where the procedure is done or on which part of the globe the procedure is done. The cost of wisdom tooth removal actually varies where wisdom tooth extraction can be cheaper or may be more expensive in certain country or area.
Simple wisdom tooth removal which is not complicated usually costs cheaper. Complicated procedure for wisdom tooth removal on the other hand generally costs a lot expensive compared to simple extraction.
What to eat after Wisdom Teeth Removal?
A set of instructions is given to the patient after the procedure and before the patient is sent home. An antibiotic and pain reliever is generally given after the procedure to prevent infection or in cases of wisdom tooth complicated by infection. The pain reliever is normally given to relieve the pain the patient will normally feel after the anesthesia has subsided.
Food to eat is also among the instruction given to the patient. A soft diet is recommended for the next 24 hours following the surgery and hard and spicy foods are to be avoided. Semi soft foods may be taken in following the 24 hour period although hard and spicy foods are still not advised. It is necessary to take in lots of fluid while caffeine, alcohol, hot beverages and carbonated drinks are to be avoided also for the next 24 hours right after the surgery.