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Age supposedly brings wisdom, but when it comes to your oral health, age certainly brings your wisdom teeth. When correctly positioned and healthy, your wisdom teeth are a valuable asset to your mouth. Sadly, problems often arise that necessitate their removal. If your jaw isn’t big enough to hold your wisdom teeth, their growth can become impeded. Wisdom teeth can also grow in sideways, emerge only partially, or remain stuck underneath the gum and bone.

In general, it’s wise to say goodbye to your wisdom teeth when:
• The teeth only partially emerge. Partial emergence can leave a space surrounding the tooth where bacteria can thrive, and lead to an infection, tooth pain, swelling, stiffness of the jaw, and illness.
• An improperly aligned tooth could inflict damage to nearby teeth.
• A cyst forms, damaging adjacent organic matter such as tooth roots and bone.

Asking about the position of your wisdom teeth with your dentist during a cleaning or checkup will give you an idea whether they will require removal. If you experience any pain, swelling or tenderness related to the growth of your wisdom teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist to determine the seriousness of the problem. If the problems necessitate the removal of the tooth, you may need to schedule an additional appointment. Your dentist may elect to remove all of your wisdom teeth during the same appointment.

Fortunately, tooth extractions are a relatively minor out patient procedure. First, the dentist will numb the surrounding area to easy any discomfort. Once the area is numb, the dentist will remove the tooth with the use of forceps, and stitch the area together if necessary. If the wisdom tooth is only partially visible, the dentist may need to cut open and pull back the gums to gain access to the tooth. After the extraction, you’ll need to bite down on a piece of gauze for roughly 20 to 30 minutes to allow the blood to clot.

When at home following the procedure, your dentist will instruct you to only eat soft and cool foods for the next couple of days. Avoid smoking, drinking out of a straw, or spitting until the wound begins to heal as each of these activities could cause the clot to become dislodged from the hole your tooth previously occupied. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will help keep the wound clean and bacteria free. The majority of swelling and bleeding caused by the extraction will subside after a couple of days.

In most cases, your stitches will dissolve within a few weeks, but sometimes your dentist may need to remove them. Over-the-counter pain medications will help easy any discomfort you feel following most routine extractions, but the surgical removal of a tooth may require your dentist to prescribe you a painkiller. While an infection can set in following a tooth removal, individuals with a healthy immune system have little to worry about. If you have questions about having your wisdom teeth removed, or post procedure cars, be sure to ask your dentist.