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When Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Necessary?
10 million wisdom teeth are removed every single year!
In the past, the extraction and removal of wisdom teeth were seen as a precaution measure to promote oral health and prevent long-term health issues associated with the emergence of third molars.
What’s the Wisdom on Wisdom Teeth?
Most people do not have adequate jaw space to accommodate their third molars. As a result, wisdom teeth commonly do not erupt properly, or sometimes not at all, remaining trapped beneath the gums.
The traditional thinking behind the preemptive removal of wisdom teeth is built on the idea that early removal can prevent potential oral health issues later in life.
Many dental professionals believe that wisdom teeth, or third molars, crowd out other teeth as they grow, causing many dental problems, including dental crowding, impactions, and infections.
For most people, wisdom teeth start growing between the ages of 17 and 25 years old. That’s why dentists have traditionally recommended removing wisdom teeth during this period in a patient’s life. The thought is that if wisdom teeth are removed before they become a hazard, patients can avoid much pain and discomfort.
When Is Wisdom Teeth Removal Necessary
Removing wisdom teeth becomes necessary when they cause issues, such as dental discomfort, oral pain, or dental shifting.
Most dental professionals recommend leaving third molars in place in healthy adults.
Reasons that could make the removal of wisdom teeth necessary include:
One of the most important reasons for extracting wisdom teeth is to deal with an impacted wisdom tooth.
An impacted tooth remains hidden beneath the gums without erupting. However, impacted teeth can still wreak havoc by pushing into adjacent teeth, soft tissues, and surrounding jaw bone.
Impaction can cause several oral health issues, including dental crowding, malocclusion, and deep-tissue cysts.
While a wisdom tooth that has not erupted doesn’t necessarily indicate impaction, it is still important to get your mouth checked and to have x-rays regularly so your dentist can monitor the development of your wisdom teeth.
Partial eruptions (or mesial impactions) are the most commonly occurring type of wisdom teeth impaction.
With a mesial impaction, the tooth is partially erupted and angled towards the front of the mouth. For this reason, mesial impactions are sometimes referred to as “angular impactions.” When a third molar is only partially erupted, it may be partially covered by the gums. This extra gingival tissue often traps food debris and bacteria and can be exceedingly difficult to clean.
The combination of difficult maintenance and bacteria often leads to a condition known as pericoronitis. Pericoronitis is swelling, and infection of the gum tissue around the wisdom teeth, the third and final set of molars usually appear in your late teens or early 20s. It is most common around the lower wisdom teeth.
As your wisdom teeth grow in, they can displace your existing permanent dentition leading to dental crowding.
Most people today do not have a large enough jaw to accommodate these late-growing molars. As a result, your teeth can become crooked or even damaged over time.
Cysts or infection
Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that typically form as a result of an infection.
According to recent scholarship, only about 2 to 3 percent of impacted wisdom teeth generate so-called dentigerous cysts. While these cysts are typically benign, they can lead to many issues if left untreated.
Cysts can become infected, causing pain, tooth loss, or even jaw fractures.
Over time cysts may also become a type of benign jaw tumor known as ameloblastoma.
Problems maintaining cleanliness
Sometimes a wisdom tooth may erupt in such a way that makes dental hygiene extremely difficult or impossible, leading to chronic infections. This is most common with partially erupted third molars, which are known to cause pericoronitis. In situations where this is the case, doctors may deem dental extraction necessary.
Oral cancer or tumors
Impacted teeth are known to cause cysts. In some rare cases, impacted wisdom teeth may also generate benign tumors, such as ameloblastoma, which must be surgically removed.
Additionally, patients diagnosed with oral cancer in the area of their third molars may also have their wisdom teeth removed in the course of their cancer treatment.
Oral pain or discomfort
Ultimately, a wisdom tooth causing oral pain or discomfort or is otherwise interfering with your life needs to be removed.
Wisdom tooth pain and discomfort are often signs of impaction, infection, or the development of deep tissue cysts. However, to be sure, it is important to see your dentist or periodontist for an oral checkup.
When In Doubt, See a Dental Professional
The wisdom and science on wisdom tooth removal are continually evolving. However, one important fact that has never changed is the necessity of seeing a dental professional if you suspect something is wrong. A dentist will be able to identify the source of your oral pain or discomfort, whether it is a wayward wisdom tooth or something else.
Furthermore, common dental checkup procedures, such as x-rays, can identify problems, such as an impacted tooth, before they wreak havoc on your mouth and your health.
The Wisdom Teeth Removal Process
It would be best if you arrived comfortably. Bring your AirPods ready with any of your preferred music or let us know what you want to listen to; we will help.
Plan to arrive 15 to 30 minutes in advance of your appointment. This will give you ample time to complete any remaining office forms, if necessary, or ask any questions.
Once the operatories are prepped and ready for your arrival, your wisdom teeth removal process will begin.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Process
The wisdom teeth removal process is relatively straightforward and involves some distinct steps outlined below.
The entire process is often completed in as little as 45 minutes. For example, most wisdom teeth extraction surgeries take about an hour.
What To Expect
The wisdom teeth removal process can be broadly divided into 5 steps:
1. Preliminary preparation
The wisdom teeth removal process begins with the placement of key monitoring devices, such as electrocardiogram (EKG) pads, pulse oximeter, and blood pressure cuff.
These monitoring devices measure heart rate, blood oxygenation, and blood pressure. Once in place and calibrated, the doctor will be able to monitor your vitals during the procedure.
The doctor may also place a rubber dental dam, or bite block, to allow your jaw joints to rest during the procedure.
2. Anesthesia & Sedation
Many patients feel anxious about oral surgery or the prospect of experiencing pain. If you are worried about pain or discomfort, you can rest easy.
Before your wisdom teeth procedure, the doctor will administer a combination of local and general anesthetics as well as sedatives. Depending on your needs, you may be administered nitrous oxide, anesthesia through an intravenous (IV) drip, or a combination of both.
The doctor can deliver sedatives through a pill or an IV drip. The vast majority of patients undergoing a wisdom teeth removal procedure will be quite relaxed or even sleep through the entire procedure and will often experience no pain or discomfort.
Once you are comfortably sedated, the doctor will administer local anesthesia to the tissue around your wisdom teeth, such as a shot of novocaine. This will totally numb and eliminate any pain. However, if you are awake for the procedure, you may feel pressure on your wisdom teeth but no pain.
3. Extraction surgery
The surgical portion of a wisdom teeth removal procedure begins with an incision.
Next, the periodontist or oral surgeon makes a small cut with a scalpel to create an access point.
Next, the bone covering or blocking the wisdom tooth is removed using special tools such as a surgical bar.
Once the wisdom tooth is fully exposed, it is ready for extraction.
First, the periodontist or oral surgeon will separate the tooth with a periosteal elevator. To facilitate the extraction, the socket is expanded to allow better access to dental tools. Then, the doctor can utilize small and large elevators to separate the tooth further as needed.
Next, each piece of the tooth is carefully removed using a pair of dental forceps. Any leftover debris is also removed at this time.
4. Clean up
With the tooth out, the extraction isn’t completed quite yet. The site of the surgical wound must also be carefully compressed and irrigated. Exposed bone edges are also filed down.
Finally, sterile gauze is inserted into the socket to stop the bleeding.
Sutures, or stitches, to help hold the wound closed are highly recommended for lower jaw wisdom teeth extractions.
Stitches are optional for the upper jaw.
Depending on your needs, the doctor may or may not deploy sutures at the site of the surgery. These sutures can be conventional stitches or dissolvable stitches which come apart on their own in 5 to 7 days.
Conventional stitches will be removed in a follow-up appointment. Both types of sutures work well and are recommended to aid in the healing process.
While the surgical portion of your wisdom teeth removal process may be over, the journey isn’t over yet. Recovery protocols, as well as any recommended follow-up appointments, must also be rigorously observed.
It is important to reach out to your periodontist with any concerns or potential issues after your surgery and during your recovery period.
Recovery can take between a couple of days to a week or more. However, most healthy patients can return to school or work after 48 hours.
Knowledge is power. Knowing more can better help you prepare yourself or your loved one for wisdom teeth removal in the case of wisdom teeth. It is important to keep in mind that every patient’s specific situation can be different, and your periodontist will provide you with the surgical plans and expectations.
Preparing Your Teenager for Wisdom Teeth Removal
Getting your teens ready to have their wisdom teeth pulled
Every year millions of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed. The majority of these patients are teenagers and young adults.
Wisdom teeth removal is so prevalent in young adults that many families see the procedure as a rite of passage into adulthood. Although there is a healthy debate about the prophylactic or pre-emptive removal of wisdom teeth in young adults, most dentists and periodontists still recommend the procedure.
Wisdom teeth, or “third molars,” have the potential to cause many oral health issues as they grow in during early adulthood. For example, wisdom teeth often become impacted or fail to emerge, resulting in crowded teeth, infections, pain, and other dental problems. Furthermore, wisdom teeth do not provide any known benefits to patients, even if they cause no immediate health issues or discomfort. This is because most human jaws cannot accommodate this extra set of teeth.
Why Remove Wisdom Teeth in Teens
Their jaw bone is still relatively soft and malleable during a person’s teenage years and young adulthood. In addition, as a person ages, their bones tend to harden, which can make extraction procedures in older adults more difficult and make recovery more arduous.
As wisdom teeth begin to grow, they can damage your gums and teeth. Extracting potentially troublesome wisdom teeth in teenagers prevents any potential oral health issues further down the line.
It is important to note that the consensus on whether to extract wisdom teeth early or wait until patients become symptomatic is widely debated. However, most doctors and parents should err on the side of caution. Whether or not to remove wisdom teeth should be a conversation between a patient, a patient’s parents or legal guardian, and their periodontist.
5 Steps to Prepare Your Teen For Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom teeth removal, like any dental or surgical procedure, can cause your teenager some anxiety. Therefore, it is important to proactively communicate with your teen about what the process will entail and what the day-of plan and recovery plan will be.
In other words, preparation is key!
By being prepared, you will not only assuage your teen’s anxieties but also make the experience smoother for yourself.
1. Talk to your dentist or periodontist.
The first step in preparing you and your teen for their wisdom teeth procedure is to have a conversation with your dentist or periodontist. Setting up an appointment for a routine checkup or initial consultation will allow you and your teen to ask your dentist important questions about the wisdom teeth extraction experience.
Some important questions to ask your dentist or periodontist include:
- Does my teen need to have preparatory dental work done before the procedure?
- Can my teen take their prescription medications beforehand?
- What time does my teen need to arrive for the procedure appointment?
- Does my teen need to avoid eating or drinking (fasting) before the procedure?
2. Talk to your teenager about the process.
Communication is key.
Talking your teen through the process will help them feel more at ease and less anxious about their wisdom teeth extraction. Let them know that there is a plan in place and that you are listening to their concerns.
While your teen may have heard stories from peers who have undergone the procedure, talking to a doctor directly will help them clear up any misconceptions and answer any burning questions.
Questions most teens will want to be answered include:
- Will the procedure be painful?
- What will I be able to eat afterward?
- Will my face look swollen or puffy?
- Will I be able to play sports?
- Why is this procedure necessary?
As with any surgical procedure, pain after the initial painkillers wear off is to be expected. However, talking to your teen about the pain can help them mentally prepare for the physical discomfort associated with the recovery period.
3. Go shopping.
After a wisdom teeth extraction procedure, patients must follow a soft food diet for a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on how quickly their wounds heal.
During this time, your teen will have to make do with soft foods and liquids like mashed potatoes and smoothies. But, this can also be an opportunity to have a little fun. Let your teenager pick out their favorite soft foods, snacks, and drinks for their recovery. While Mac & Cheese and ice cream for dinner wouldn’t normally make for the healthiest dinner, it’s a nice treat once in a while.
Great soft foods teens crave include:
- Mac & Cheese
- Buttered baked potato
- Ice cream
- Soft spaghetti
- Creamy PB&J
- Scrambled eggs
4. Arrange transportation beforehand.
No patient should drive after getting their wisdom teeth removed. Sedatives and anesthetics administered for the procedure cause most patients to feel drowsy or sleepy. Chances are, your teen will be ready to nap immediately after the procedure. Parents and guardians should arrange transportation for their teens.
Sedatives can be disorienting for some teens. So you should be prepared to drive them home, help them to their room or the couch, and put them to rest.
5. Rest before and after wisdom teeth removal.
A great rule of thumb immediately after surgery is to have your teen sleep as much as possible. Be sure to put them somewhere comfortable and elevate their head on a pillow or cushion.
During the critical first 24 hours after surgery, patients must get lots of rest and move their heads as little as possible. Resting after surgery speeds up the healing process and keeps the mouth immobile, which allows the wound to clot. Once the wound has clotted, it is important to avoid strenuous activity or prod the extraction site.
What You Must Know About Wisdom Teeth Removal After 30
For more than a generation, the prevailing wisdom in dentistry has encouraged the preemptive extraction of wisdom teeth to prevent future complications. However, wisdom teeth left in place can become impacted, infected, harbor bacteria, or crowd out adjacent teeth. In addition, impacted wisdom teeth can cause excruciating dental pain amongst other oral health issues.
Many Americans have their wisdom teeth removed in their teenage years or their twenties. During this time in a person’s life, wisdom teeth, or third molars, are just beginning to grow in. Furthermore, during a person’s teens and twenties, their jawbones have not completely hardened. This makes dental extractions both easier to execute and easier to recover from.
As a person ages, their bones tend to harden, which can make surgery more difficult. However, just because a person is over 30 doesn’t mean that it is too late for wisdom teeth removal. Wisdom teeth issues that necessitate removal can strike at any age.
If you are over 30, there is no need to worry. However, here’s what you need to know.
What If I’m Over 30?
Wisdom teeth typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25 years old. Typically, this is considered to be the best time for preemptive wisdom teeth removal.
Wisdom teeth removal for patients over 30 is not uncommon. However, here are some things if you are 30 or over that you should keep in mind:
Healthy patients over the age of 30 generally experience no additional complications with wisdom teeth removal.
Therefore, most dental professionals recommend removing wisdom teeth in your teens and twenties as a preventive measure to later hardships or complications.
If you are experiencing wisdom teeth pain or discomfort, no matter your age, it’s important to consult with a periodontist about wisdom teeth removal and don’t put it off. In general, waiting a little longer to have your wisdom teeth extracted isn’t an issue, but allowing your wisdom teeth to become impacted can cause severe damage to your mouth.
There may already be existing damage.
Those who choose to skip wisdom teeth removal in their teens and twenties may be putting their oral health at risk.
When wisdom teeth first emerge, they do not cause much damage or discomfort. However, over time they can become impacted, resulting in several potential health problems such as cysts or abscesses.
You may hide many of these issues for some time before symptoms become noticeable. For example, patients who wait into their 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s to have wisdom teeth removal may find they have preexisting damage caused by impacted teeth.
Teeth extraction after age 30 can be more difficult, and recovery can be slightly longer.
Wisdom teeth are easier to remove before they have fully developed. This is the reason why many dental professionals recommend having your third molars extracted during early adulthood.
As you grow older, your wisdom teeth also grow deeper roots. In addition, as you age, the surrounding bone tissues tend to harden. Deeper roots, harder bones, and proximity to the inferior alveolar nerve may make your wisdom teeth harder to extract. But, of course, extraction is only part of the process.
After extraction, recovery for patients over the age of 30 may also take a little longer. Instead of a few days, an older adult may need a week or longer for their mouth to heal from a wisdom tooth extraction procedure.
Consider having all your wisdom teeth removed at once.
Wisdom teeth removal surgery is a common procedure, even in older adults.
Patients considering a wisdom tooth extraction might want to consider having all their wisdom teeth removed in a single sitting. Extracting all of your third molars at once can avoid undergoing multiple extraction procedures over time. Not only will this save you money, but it will also save you days and weeks in recovery time.
It is important to talk to your periodontist to develop a roadmap for dental treatment that is most suitable for your needs.
Be prepared on your day of surgery. Arrange for help with transportation and stock up on soft foods.
Due to the use of anesthetics and sedatives, patients will not be able to transport themselves home without assistance. Therefore, attempting to travel immediately after wisdom tooth surgery can be dangerous and put your life and the lives of others at risk.
Adults over 30 may not rely on parents or guardians to arrange their post-operation transportation needs. Instead, older patients should have their spouse, partner, or a trusted friend ensure that they get home safely.
Patients should also be well-prepared for a healing period that last for days or even weeks. Recovery may take between 3 or 4 days or longer. Older patients can expect the recovery to take 5 days or longer, while younger patients can usually bounce back in just a few days. But, again, it is important to be patient and err on the side of caution. Give your mouth the time it needs to heal and avoid jumping back into your regular routines.
What To Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal
12 Best Foods To Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal
12 soft and tasty foods will fill your belly and keep you healthy as you recover from a wisdom teeth removal surgery.
The process of pulling out wisdom teeth is well established, straightforward, and can be accomplished in a single sitting. However, wisdom teeth therapy doesn’t end with removal. Instead, the longest part of the process begins once the teeth are out – the recovery period.
While the overall healing process may take as little as 4 to 7 days and up to six weeks or longer, most people can begin normal physical activities within a day or two. During the healing process, the soft tissues may be susceptible, necessitating a liquid or soft food diet for some time. Most oral surgeons recommend that patients stick to a liquid-based or soft food diet for at least the first few days. After that, patients can begin adding back as they feel that they are ready. However, you’ll want to take it slow to be safe.
To heal quickly, it is essential to eat a nutritious diet immediately following wisdom teeth surgery.
Following are 12 delicious and nutritious soft foods that are a safe post-operative diet.
1. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes and gravy are a tasty and energy-dense way to get carbohydrates that will power you through your recovery. A rich and creamy mashed potato prepared from soft, cooked potatoes can add a homey and comforting dish to your meals – hold the bacon bits. Instant mashed potatoes can also do the trick if you’re on a tight budget or in a time crunch.
Check out an ultra-creamy mashed potatoes recipe here: Ultra-Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe | Bon Appétit (bonappetit.com)
Ready to go:
Real Premium Mashed Potatoes – Gluten-Free, 65 servings in one carton – Costco
2. Instant Oatmeal
Instant oatmeal is made from finely milled and pre-cooked oats. Oatmeal is well known for its excellent nutritional value and robust fiber content. A bowl of instant oatmeal is incredibly easy to make and can keep you feeling full for hours. Better yet, oatmeal is incredibly versatile. You can eat it plain or dress it up with all manner of dentist-approved fixings, from soft fruits and jellies to savory add-ins like cheese and eggs. Or throw in a little butter and cinnamon for a classic dish that also tastes great.
While instant oatmeal is a great choice for a post-operative diet, patients should avoid some oatmeal products such as traditional rolled oats or steel-cut oats. These oats won’t cook down as quickly or get as soft. You may also want to stay away from oat mixes that contain hard seeds and nuts, such as flax seeds, which can hurt sensitive tissues.
Need a quick fix? Try these instant oats here: 7 best instant oatmeals: Healthy instant oatmeal brands
Congee is a classic east Asian rice porridge that is both nutritious and highly versatile. Congee is traditionally eaten as a breakfast dish, although many families also serve it as a dessert with sweet additions such as sweet adzuki beans and brown sugar. It is straightforward to make and, with a little creativity, can be made into a savory staple meal or a mouth-watering and nutritious dessert. In fact, like chicken soup in western culture, congee is widely seen in Asia as a comforting and healthy panacea enjoyed by people of all ages.
Try a beginner congee recipe here: Basic Chinese Congee Recipe – Todd Porter and Diane Cu | Food & Wine (foodandwine.com)
Yogurts made from fermented dairy are nutritious and delicious. Importantly, yogurt can add in the proteins you need to speed up the recovery process. In addition to proteins, yogurt also contains much-needed calcium, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals. Yogurt also contains healthy probiotics that can improve your gut health and digestion, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients.
Pop a yogurt in the morning, or eat one with fruits for dessert to pack in the nutrients and flavor.
Feeling ambitious? Try making your own home-made yogurt here for maximum probiotic goodness: Creamy Homemade Yogurt Recipe – NYT Cooking (nytimes.com)
Smoothies are a no-brainer for any patient recovering from wisdom teeth removal or any medical procedure that may necessitate a liquid diet. However, vegetables, particularly leafy greens and fibrous roots, can be difficult to incorporate into a soft food diet.
Enter the smoothie.
With a powerful blender, almost any fruit or vegetable can be blended down into a nutrition-packed, drinkable beverage.
Looking for mean, green smoothies that actually taste great? Check out these recommended smoothie recipes here: Veggie Packed Smoothies That Actually Taste Good | FN Dish – Behind-the-Scenes, Food Trends, and Best Recipes: Food Network | Food Network
Like smoothies, juices are a great way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into a liquid recovery diet. Unfortunately, juicers can be pricey. But with a little price shopping for deals or buying a used juicing machine, you too can be making super nutritious, vitamin-packed juices.
For those on a budget, a great place to start is with a citrus juice or manual press, which can be purchased for as little as $40. With a simple citrus press, you can make delicious orange or grapefruit juices that are fresher, healthier, and taste better than anything you can get at a grocery store.
While juices are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients, they tend to lack fiber lost during the juicing process. To add a little fiber back in, try adding in some soaked chia seeds. When soaked for enough time, chia seeds become soft like tapioca pearls and can be easily consumed.
When relying heavily on a juice diet, it is important to think creatively about adding in those missing fibers. One easy and cost-effective way to bump up your healthy fiber intake is to add fiber supplements, such as Metamucil, into your daily routine.
Learn more about fiber supplements here: Fiber supplements
Hummus is made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, and other ingredients such as garlic. The resulting blended mixture is a soft, creamy, and nutritious dip that can be used as a spread, eaten as a side or consumed as an entree. This flavorful and savory dish contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals. More importantly, hummus is also a great source of plant proteins which can help speed up the healing process.
Try making your own hummus at home with this classic recipe here: Classic Chickpea Hummus Recipe | Bon Appétit (bonappetit.com)
Avocados are one of nature’s superfoods. Avocados are famously rich and creamy, and the natural fats go a long way towards making you feel satiated. Additionally, avocados are also a rich source of several B vitamins and vitamin K, with moderate vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium.
On top of this long list of nutrients, avocados also contain phytosterols and carotenoids. No wonder this fruit is in such high demand!
For a quick and easy meal that tastes great, try eating avocados raw with just a pinch of salt, a touch of lime, and a sprinkle of paprika.
Or, you can try out this recipe here: Chili Lime Avocados Recipe | Rachael Ray | Food Network
9. Apple Sauce
Apple sauce is a classic food staple for patients recovering from oral surgery or other medical procedures requiring a soft food diet. Unlike apples, which are crunchy and hard, applesauce is soft and easy on your mouth. A sweet cup of applesauce fresh from the refrigerator is a delightful treat that makes for a great snack or after-meal dessert. Apple sauce is very inexpensive and widely available. It’s no wonder applesauce is widely enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
To spice up your applesauce, try adding in a pinch of spicy cinnamon. Be careful, though; many commercially-produced applesauce products are loaded with sugars that aren’t good for your teeth. Luckily, delicious applesauce is something that can easily be made at home: Homemade Applesauce (simplyrecipes.com)
Nothing beats the mouthwatering scent of bacon and eggs in the morning. While you might have to hold off from eating bacon while healing from your wisdom teeth removal, you can still enjoy delicious scrambled eggs. Unlike other egg preparations, soft scrambled eggs are easier to eat.
Eggs are also loaded with protein, which can be hard to get on a soft food diet.
Want to make the perfect soft scrambled eggs? Try this recipe by famed chef Gordon Ramsay: Gordon Ramsay’s Scrambled Eggs – YouTube.
11. Soups & Broths
Smooth, blended soups and rich broths are a great way to get the nutrients your body needs during your recovery period. Soups and broths also help keep you hydrated. When preparing soups and broths, it is important to smoothly blend ingredients into your soups to avoid small bits and pieces from irritating the wound site. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the soup is cool or lukewarm. Hot soup can irritate sensitive tissues and delay the healing process.
Bone broth is one popular and scrumptious option for those in recovery. Bone broth is made from beef bones that are stewed over a very long period of time, sometimes even days, so that the nutrients in the bone melt into the broth. Although research into the health effects of bone broth is limited, preliminary data suggest that bone broth may benefit the gastrointestinal system, fight inflammation, and improve joint health. Plus, it just tastes so darn great.
Don’t have all day to make bone broth from scratch? Checkout these off-the-shelf bone broths: The 5 Best Bone Broths You Can Buy Off the Shelf | Bon Appétit (bonappetit.com)
Fish, particularly fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, are some of the healthiest animal protein sources around. You’ll want to avoid crunchy deep-fried fish or crusted fish as these foods can harm your sensitive oral tissues. However, soft fish dishes, such as sashimi, steamed fish, or cooked salmon, are great additions to your post-operative diet. Salmon, in particular, is famous for its high omega-3 content and a wide variety of preparation styles.
Not all fish are created equal. Some fish are more nutritious and richer in omega-3’s than others. Fishes high in omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Lake Trout
While steaming fish, as opposed to frying or baking, may seem a little exotic, steaming fish is actually a trendy dish in Asia and worldwide. Try this take on a classic Chinese steamed fish dish using salmon: Danny Chan’s Steamed Salmon with Lemon Recipe | Food Network
5 DO’s After Wisdom Teeth Removal
After wisdom teeth are removed, patients must undergo a healing process or recovery period. This crucial recovery period is necessary for your gums to fully heal, particularly the tissues at and around the surgical site. So while your wisdom teeth may be gone, the journey isn’t over yet.
Depending on your age, general health, and the scope of your wisdom teeth removal procedure, the post-operative healing time frame can range from just a few days to as long as a few weeks. In their teens and twenties, younger patients can expect to get back to their regular routines in around 4 or 5 days. Meanwhile, older patients may want to take a week or longer. Impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth may also extend your healing time frame.
While many patients mistakenly think that their wisdom teeth procedure is over after the surgery. In reality, the healing period is just as crucial as the surgical operation itself. The healing period allows your gums to repair damaged tissues. If the healing process is disrupted, painful consequences such as a dry socket can result.
Dry socket is a painful condition that can develop when the blood clot that forms immediately after a dental extraction is accidentally dislodged or dissolved, resulting in exposed nerves. Dry sockets can be extremely uncomfortable and can delay the healing process.
To experience a smooth recovery, patients should keep a few important things in mind.
5 DO’S After Wisdom Teeth Removal
1. DO brush your teeth.
While your mouth may feel sore after having your wisdom teeth removed, it is still important to brush your teeth to remove bacteria and food debris starting 48 hours after your surgery.
However, DO NOT brush the area of the surgery until it is fully healed. In addition, it is crucial to avoid brushing, scraping, poking, or otherwise irritating the surgical wound until it has healed.
2. DO drink plenty of water.
Stay hydrated to heal faster.
Adequate hydration is crucial for your body to repair itself. However, DO NOT drink water through a straw. The suction created from sucking through a straw can dislodge the blood clot resulting in dry socket.
3. DO eat a soft food diet.
One of the most important DO’s during the initial few days after your surgery is to consume a strictly soft food or liquid diet.
Popular soft foods are listed in the previous section above, including applesauce, mashed potatoes, jello, and mac & cheese.
Stick to foods that are easy to consume with minimal chewing and are easy on your mouth. Then, as your mouth begins to heal, you can slowly add in familiar foods, saving harder, tougher foods, such as potato chips and steak, for last.
4. DO take it easy.
Avoid strenuous activities immediately after your surgery.
During the first 24 to 48 hours after wisdom tooth removal, the new blood clot at the wound site is relatively fragile and can be easily dislodged if you aren’t careful. To avoid dislodging a clot, it is important to take it easy.
Don’t play sports.
Don’t shake your head or mouth too vigorously.
Instead, relax, and give your body the time and space it needs to heal properly.
5. DO elevate your head and apply an ice pack to your jaw and face.
You can expect some swelling and pain after your wisdom teeth removal procedure.
To alleviate the swelling and tackle the pain, elevate your head and apply an ice pack to your jaw and face.
Follow the RICE method:
Rest gives your body a chance to heal.
Ice reduces swelling and speeds up the recovery process.
Compression is achieved by biting down on a piece of gauze immediately after the surgery is complete. However, compression is less applicable once a blood clot has formed.
Elevating your head reduces pain, throbbing, and swelling by using gravity to push blood away from the site of your wound.
5 DON’TS After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Following 5 Don’ts you will want to keep in mind during your recovery period.
1. DO NOT suck, spit, or vigorously rinse your mouth.
Sucking, spitting, or rinsing too hard can dislodge the blood clot and delay healing.
A painful condition known as dry socket can result if a blood clot is dislodged or dissolves prematurely.
2. DO NOT attempt to drive yourself home following surgery.
Anesthetics and sedatives are typically employed during a wisdom teeth extraction procedure.
Anesthesia and sedation make the removal process pain-free and can help minimize patient discomfort and anxiety. However, these drugs also cause drowsiness, dizziness, and other side effects that make operating a vehicle ill-advised.
Have a friend, partner, or family member ensure that you get home safe and sound so that the healing can begin.
3. DO NOT pick at the surgical site.
The best way to let your mouth heal after having your third molars removed is to leave it alone as much as possible. It can be tempting to pick at, poke, and prod the site of the wound. However, doing so can lead to unintentional injury and delayed healing.
4. DO NOT eat tough foods or consume beverages that are too hot or cold.
Patients need to follow a soft food or liquid diet in the days following a wisdom teeth procedure.
Soft foods minimize the chances of unintentionally injuring your healing gums.
Avoid chips, steak, hard bread, tough vegetables, and other hard, sharp, or difficult to chew foods.
Instead, treat yourself to mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, chicken noodle soup, yogurt, and jellies.
It is also important to avoid food and beverages that are cold or scalding hot. Ice cold drinks, such as smoothies, and hot beverages, such as coffee, can irritate your gums and slow the healing process.
5. DO NOT be afraid to reach out to your periodontist.
If you have concerns about your recovery experience, please reach out to your periodontist. While some pain, discomfort, or even oral bleeding may be normal, pain or bleeding that lasts past the first 48 hours could signify that something is wrong. If this is the case, contact your periodontist immediately.
Gum Disease Around Wisdom Teeth
Gum Disease & Wisdom Teeth
Gum disease around wisdom teeth is a surprisingly common occurrence. An infection of the gums characterizes gum disease.
Early-stage gum disease is commonly known as gingivitis.
Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis.
Both stages of gum disease are triggered by the same underlying problems: the presence of bacteria and subsequent inflammation.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Common symptoms of gum disease include inflammation and swelling of the gums, gingival pain, and bleeding.
Gum disease can affect your wisdom teeth and be affected by, or triggered by, your wisdom teeth. Like all your teeth, your wisdom teeth are sealed and protected by your gums. Gum tissues cover sensitive dental roots and prevent destructive bacteria, food debris, and other unwanted material compromising your teeth. However, your gums can fall victim to infection without proper care and maintenance.
The gums around your wisdom teeth are particularly susceptible to disease. This is the case for several important reasons. First, improperly erupted wisdom teeth can damage your gums by creating food traps that are difficult to clean and harbor disease-causing bacteria.
Meanwhile, wisdom teeth that grow sideways can become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth are prone to abscesses, leading to gum disease and other oral health problems.
Gum disease is a wide-ranging condition that often encompasses the entire mouth. However, wisdom teeth are closely associated with a localized type of gum disease known as pericoronitis.
What is Pericoronitis?
A flap of gum tissue called an operculum often develops over partially erupted wisdom teeth. This flap of tissue tends to trap food debris and can be almost impossible to keep clean. As a result, an operculum often provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to attack your gums.
What are the symptoms of Pericoronitis?
- Inflammation around your wisdom teeth
- Localized pain around your wisdom teeth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Lockjaw (trismus)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Discharge of pus from the back of the mouth
What is the Solution to Pericoronitis?
There are a few ways to treat pericoronitis depending on the severity and scope of the condition.
Mild, acute (short-term) pericoronitis can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers to help control localized pain and swelling while your body heals.
More severe pericoronitis may require a course of antibiotics to beat back an infection that has taken hold.
- Better oral hygiene
An operculum presents a significant challenge to oral hygiene around a partially erupted tooth. However, oral irrigators and oral rinses can help cleanse hard-to-reach areas and control bacteria.
- Remove the operculum
To improve overall oral hygiene and prevent pericoronitis, a dentist can remove the overlying operculum to expose the tooth below.
- Wisdom Tooth Extraction. The ultimate solution for pericoronitis is to extract and remove a partially-erupted wisdom tooth.
An improperly-erupted or impacted wisdom tooth can trigger pericoronitis, gum disease, and other oral health hazards.
The ultimate solution for many of these problematic conditions is to extract the offending wisdom tooth. If you are experiencing inflammation, swelling, or pain in the area of your wisdom teeth, it might be time to take them out.
Sedation Options for Wisdom Teeth Removal
Sedatives and anesthetics are commonly employed in many dental procedures, including wisdom teeth removal. While ubiquitous and routinely employed, doctors still don’t understand all the mechanics behind how sedatives work.
Nonetheless, the effects of sedation on patients are highly predictable. Without the use of sedatives and anesthetics, most dental procedures including wisdom teeth extractions would be impossible or extremely painful.
At Cutting Edge Periodontists, we expertly and regularly administer sedatives to our patients on a case-by-case basis depending on a patient’s needs and comfort level.
It is important to us to provide an experience that is as comfortable and painless as possible. Sedatives give us the ability to control anxiety, mitigate pain, and even adjust levels of consciousness as needed.
Sedatives are only administered after careful consideration and a full review of a patient’s needs, desires, and health history.
What Are Sedatives?
Sedatives are drugs designed to mitigate pain and anxiety during medical procedures such as oral surgery by depression awareness.
Sedation refers to a state of reduced awareness of one’s surroundings and limited responsiveness to external stimuli. With analgesics designed to numb pain, sedatives can help patients have a more comfortable experience during their wisdom teeth removal procedure.
Sedatives can be delivered in several ways.
Most commonly, mild to moderate sedation can be easily achieved through oral pills administered before a procedure.
For deep sedation or general anesthesia, intravenous (IV) delivery may be preferred.
Deeper levels of sedation require careful and professional monitoring by an experienced anesthesiologist.
Dental anesthetics are medical drugs used to prevent pain in patients during surgery. Anesthetics are a class of drugs used to numb a specific area of the body of sensations or induce a degree of unconsciousness.
Sedation is different in intent and effect on the body. Sedation is typically employed to reduce a patient’s anxiety and help them relax during surgery or induce a level of drowsiness. During sedation, compared to anesthesia, patients can still be stimulated by and respond to touch, light, and sound.
Both anesthesia and sedation require approval based on a thorough evaluation of a patient’s health by our staff.
What Are Levels of Anesthesia and Sedation?
Sedatives and anesthesia are commonly confused. Therefore, it is essential to understand the difference between the two. It is also helpful to view sedation and anesthesia on a spectrum of awareness.
Whereas local anesthesia merely numbs a small area of the body, general anesthesia renders a person completely “asleep” and unable to respond to external stimuli.
Sedation exists somewhere between these two ends with milder and deeper versions as demanded by the circumstances.
Both sedatives and anesthetics can be used to mitigate pain or anxiety through the adjustment of a patient’s awareness and senses. With all sedation levels, except for local anesthesia, it will not be possible to drive yourself home immediately after your wisdom teeth removal procedure. It is crucial for your safety to have a trusted person transport you to your home or a safe place and ensure that you are well situated.
The five levels of sedation are:
1. Local Anesthesia
On one end of the spectrum is local anesthesia or highly localized numbing of a specific area of the mouth.
An injection of novocaine to numb your mouth before a tooth extraction is an example of local anesthesia.
Local anesthetics are employed for all surgical procedures, including wisdom teeth removal.
Local anesthetics work by blocking local nerve pathways as well as muscle paralysis. So while you may feel an initial prick of pain during the injection, you should feel nothing during a procedure except the sensation of pressure. The numbness should wear off in a matter of hours, although some people report lingering numbness after a surgical procedure.
2. Mild Sedation
Mild sedation is also commonly employed in dental clinics for a variety of treatments.
Mild sedation can be administered through a pill that patients swallow or through a gas such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) before a procedure or appointment.
It is essential to let your periodontist know if you have had any allergic reactions to sedatives in the past.
With mild sedation, patients are still very much aware and in control of their own body. However, you will feel much less anxious and far more relaxed.
Mild sedation is optional. However, most patients opt for a mild sedative before minor surgical procedures to feel comfortable and less anxious.
3. Moderate Sedation
Moderate sedation can be employed for standard dental procedures for patients who experience high levels of anxiety.
While there is no hard line between what is considered mild or moderate sedation, in general, with moderate sedation, patients may begin to feel drowsy or even fall asleep in some instances.
Patients are still somewhat aware of their surroundings but can be slow to respond to external stimuli.
4. Deep (Twilight) Sedation
Deep sedation, or twilight sedation, is achieved through an intravenous (IV) drip delivery.
This level of sedation is typically reserved for more invasive dental procedures or in cases where patients have a deep-seated phobia of dental procedures.
For an uncomplicated wisdom teeth removal procedure, patients would not typically need deep sedation. However, for complicated dental extractions, such as in cases where the wisdom teeth are impacted, deep sedation may be considered.
With deep sedation, patients are effectively put in a twilight state hovering just above total unconsciousness. Most patients will not remember much while they are in this state. Patients under deep sedation will also be difficult to arouse and are primarily unresponsive to external stimuli.
A dental facility must be certified to perform deep sedation, and its practitioners must undergo rigorous training. In addition, unlike moderate or mild sedation, deep sedation may take additional time to recover.
5. General Anesthesia
General anesthesia is only reserved for extensive oral surgery. For highly complicated wisdom teeth extractions where the third molars are deeply impacted or located near a nerve, general anesthesia can be considered.
With general anesthesia, a patient is rendered completely unconscious. Therefore, you will have no memory of the operation. Furthermore, it may take up to 48 hours for the effects to fully wear off.
A licensed anesthesiologist must carefully monitor patients under general anesthesia. Once the procedure is completed, the anesthesiologist will administer reversal agents that awaken an unconscious patient.
Sedatives come in various forms, including pills, gases, and intravenous (IV) drips. Depending on your individual needs, different drugs may be administered by themselves or with other medications.
Common sedation pills include:
Common sedation gases include:
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
Common intravenous (IV) sedatives include both opioids and non-opiods:
Benzodiazepines (Non-opioids: such as Diazepam, Lorazepam, & Midazolam)
Most levels of sedation can be achieved in a dentist’s office.
Moderate to deep twilight sedation often requires specialized training and is available at specialist clinics such as a periodontist’s office.
General anesthesia can only be administered by a licensed anesthesiologist and requires special equipment as well as expertise. General anesthesia is thus typically only available at a surgical center or hospital.
Preparing for Wisdom Teeth Removal
Your wisdom teeth are the last set of adult teeth that will erupt into the mouth. Located at the very back of the teeth, the upper jaw has two and the lower jaw has two. Generally, people will grow in all four wisdom teeth, but it varies from person to person. Surgically removing wisdom teeth is very common, but it is not necessary for everyone. If your wisdom teeth begin to move in a way that overcrowds your molars, it may be necessary to remove them before they cause more significant oral health problems.
Wisdom teeth removal may be necessary for any of the following reasons:
- Infected wisdom teeth
- The surrounding teeth begin to be damaged
- Increasing signs of decay are visible
- Your molars cause you excessive amounts of pain
Knowing how to prepare for wisdom teeth surgery is important before you undergo it.
1. Do not smoke prior to surgery.
It is recommended to stop smoking as soon as possible before oral surgery.
Our recommendation is to stop 72 hours before your surgery.
The healing process is slowed down by smoking because it reduces blood flow, causing wounds to heal less quickly and become infected more frequently. Your chances of getting infected and developing complications increase as well. This applies to all types of smoking.
2. Do not eat or drink before surgery.
You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, including water.
Anesthesia is required for wisdom teeth removal, so you risk regurgitating what is in your stomach and possibly obstructing your airway. To avoid this complication, please come to your appointment with an empty stomach.
3. Plan to bring someone with you.
Since you will be under anesthesia during the surgery, you will be extremely groggy when you wake up.
The procedure will require that you have a designated driver willing to stay in the waiting room during the procedure. This can be a parent, friend, guardian, or partner.
Be sure the person knows they will not be able to leave, and they should bring something to keep themselves entertained while waiting for your procedure’s completion.
4. Plan in advance to have your pantry stocked up.
As a result of wisdom teeth removal, you may experience some pain afterward. The swelling in your face will make it difficult for you to speak, swallow, and eat.
Be sure to stock up on ice packs for your face, soups, ice cream, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and other soft foods. (See Chapter 5 for a list of foods I recommend during your recovery period.)
Be prepared before you come home because you’ll want everything ready as soon as you get home.
5. Wear comfortable clothes
You might be groggy when you wake up after surgery, so wear loose, comfortable clothing.
To ensure easy access to IV sedation and blood pressure monitoring, avoid wearing long sleeves.
Additionally, you should not wear contacts because you will be required to close your eyes during the entire procedure.
Ultimately, you will benefit from being as comfortable as possible before your appointment to make your time there as easy and stress-free as possible.
Having wisdom teeth removed is a common procedure. It is important that you ask the periodontist or oral surgeon any questions you may have before surgery and that you take all precautions seriously.
Your periodontist and oral surgeon will go over everything with you before surgery.
As this is a procedure requiring general anesthesia, you must be prepared.
When Do I Need To Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth are the last set of adult teeth they will ever have. Usually, there are four wisdom teeth in the back of the mouth, two at the top and two at the bottom. Unfortunately, it is common for people not to notice wisdom teeth and to ignore them. As a result, people can experience overcrowding and pain when they erupt through their gums.
The American Dental Association explains that wisdom teeth removal is a necessary procedure when the following occur:
- There is a recurring infection in the soft tissue surrounding the tooth
- Pain often occurs due to wisdom teeth moving continuously or erupting.
- The wisdom teeth damage the surrounding teeth by overcrowding them when they come out
- Wisdom teeth are decaying
1. What is the average age for wisdom teeth removal?
Wisdom teeth typically grow in or emerge during a person’s late teens to mid-twenties. Therefore, most patients opting for a preventative extraction of their third molars undergo the removal procedure between the ages of 18 and 25. No widely available study indicates an average age for wisdom teeth removals. However, most patients have their wisdom teeth taken out sometime between 18 and 25.
2. What age do wisdom teeth come in?
Wisdom teeth typically come in between the ages of 18 and 25. However, wisdom teeth may erupt as soon as 13 years of age for some individuals, such as those of African descent.
3. Why is saltwater used to rinse mouth after tooth extraction?
Saltwater, or a saline solution, is generally recommended after a dental extraction.
Saline rinses kill bacteria, wash away food scraps, and are generally less irritating to sensitive gingival tissues than many commercially available types of mouthwash. Patients should especially avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol which can irritate your gums and dry out your mouth.
4. Why does my wisdom tooth smell?
An extracted wisdom tooth that is emitting noxious odors is a sure sign of a rotting tooth. An infection in or around a wisdom tooth is typically caused by bacteria.
Dental rot and the subsequent production of bad breath can occur when food debris becomes trapped underneath the flap of tissue above a partially erupted tooth known as an operculum. This condition is known as pericoronitis.
A fetid wisdom tooth may also result from dental caries (cavities) or possibly even an oral abscess caused by impaction. Besides removal, the best remedy for a smelly wisdom tooth is regular and thorough oral hygiene.
5. When can I spit after a tooth extraction?
Do not spit, rinse aggressively, or suck through a straw for at least 48 hours after having your wisdom teeth removed.
To maximize your chances of a successful recovery and minimize the chances of complications, I recommend minimizing spitting for up to a week after your surgical procedure.
Immediately after wisdom teeth removal, a fragile blood clot forms in the empty socket. This blood clot is crucial to the recovery and healing of your mouth. If this blood clot is dislodged or disturbed, you can completely derail the healing process. In some cases, a painful condition known as dry socket can result.
6. Can you go to work after a wisdom tooth extraction?
Most patients can return to work as soon as 48 hours after an extraction procedure.
However, for jobs that may require rigorous physical activity, such as for an athlete, we recommend taking an additional couple of days to ensure that the healing process is well underway.
It is essential not to go to work immediately following your wisdom tooth extraction procedure. Going to work too soon can be dangerous due to the lingering effects of sedatives and anesthetics and can delay your recovery.
It is crucial to get adequate rest and to avoid strenuous physical activities after your wisdom tooth procedure.
7. Can my wisdom teeth grow back?
Once your wisdom teeth have been removed, they cannot grow back.
8. What is the white stuff in my tooth socket?
White or whitish substances in your tooth socket after a wisdom tooth extraction can occur for several reasons.
A blood clot will commonly form in the empty dental socket that is left behind after an extraction procedure. This granulation tissue may appear white.
Additionally, some doctors may pack the wound with white packing materials to aid in the healing process.
Much rarer, seeing white in your tooth socket may be an indication of a dry socket. If you notice that you see white in your socket two or three days after your procedure, you could look at the underlying bone. If this is the case, you may have dislodged your blood clot and may develop a painful condition known as dry socket. If you suspect you may have dry socket, contact your doctor immediately for treatment solutions.
9. Wy do your cheeks swell after wisdom teeth removal?
Swelling is a normal bodily response to any dental extraction, including wisdom teeth removal.
Swelling and inflammation are part of the healing process. When body tissue is damaged during surgery, blood and fluids rush to the wound, causing swelling.
Because your wisdom teeth are located near your cheeks, localized swelling tends to occur in that area. Don’t worry; the swelling is only temporary and should subside in a few days after your operation. However, if the swelling persists days after the procedure, contact your periodontist immediately, as this may be a sign of a more severe issue, such as an infection or dry socket.
10. What happens if I choose not to get my wisdom teeth out?
If your wisdom teeth are causing you discomfort, it is imperative to have them removed. Pain and discomfort may be signs that your wisdom teeth are infected, impacted, or otherwise compromised.
In cases where an infection is present, failing to remove the offending teeth can cause the formation of abscesses, tooth loss, or periodontal disease. Meanwhile, impacted third molars can also cause abscesses, cysts, and other oral health hazards.
For non-symptomatic wisdom teeth, most doctors recommend prophylactic removal before they become symptomatic.
While recent studies indicate that non-symptomatic wisdom teeth can be left in place in some situations, most dental experts still advocate for early extraction of wisdom teeth between the ages of 18 and 25 before dental roots have fully matured.