Wisdom Teeth Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Answers to Common Questions About Wisdom Teeth

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are third molars located in the back of your mouth. They usually are the last to develop.

At what age do people get wisdom teeth?

Most people get their wisdom teeth in their late teens or early twenties, but it is also possible to develop wisdom teeth as a pre-teen or as an older adult.

Does everyone have wisdom teeth?

No, not everyone gets wisdom teeth. While many people get all four of their wisdom teeth, some people may only develop three, two, or even just one.

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Do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Each patient’s case is unique. The surgeon will complete a thorough clinical and radiographic exam to help determine if there are any acute problems, or potential for future issues with the wisdom teeth to help educate the patient to make a decision about what is best for them regarding their wisdom teeth.

If they grow in correctly-positioned, healthy, and function properly, it is not necessary to have them removed.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

A wisdom tooth is considered impacted if there is not enough room behind the second molar for the tooth to emerge or develop normally.

What are some problems that can arise if I do not remove my wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth, if not grown in properly, can cause further dental problems, including damage to surrounding teeth, jaw damage (cyst growth), inflamed/infected gum tissues, cavities, alignment problems, or sinus issues.

Why are wisdom teeth more difficult to remove than other teeth?

Wisdom teeth do not often grow like your other teeth. Removal of wisdom teeth often involves making an incision and development of a surgical flap for access.

The bone around the wisdom tooth has to be removed and the tooth sectioned or divided into multiple pieces to facilitate removal.

In addition, we also have to consider the wisdom teeth’s root anatomy. Wisdom teeth typically have multiple roots and they can be shaped in a variety of ways, as well as grow separately or fused together.

Teeth with irregularly shaped roots or curvature can be more difficult, especially on the lower jaw, because of their relativity to the nerve. Your surgeon will carefully evaluate this and discuss it with you at your consult.

How much will it cost to get my wisdom teeth removed?

Every case varies because the treatment is dependent on the position and complexity of each tooth. We also take into consideration dental insurance. For more information on wisdom teeth costs, please contact our office.

How long does local anesthesia last?

The numbing effects of the local anesthetic Marcaine will typically last about 8 – 10 hours so it will give the patient some time to take pain medications on a full stomach.

Can I be sedated during my wisdom teeth removal?

It is very common for our patients to undergo intravenous(IV) sedation for the removal of wisdom teeth.

How is the sedation administered?

Sedation is administered through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. Once injected, the patient will fall asleep and is completely unaware of the procedure being performed.

Supplemental oxygen is delivered through a nasal breathing apparatus. The patient is continuously monitored throughout and following the procedure on the same monitors used in a hospital setting. Safety is our number one priority.

What types of medications are administered for sedation?

Each case is unique. Generally, medications most commonly used are Fentanyl, Versed, Ketamine, and Propofol.

Will I feel pain during the procedure?

No. Depending on the complexity of the extraction, there are different anesthetic options that could be administered during the procedure to appropriately manage the patient’s pain.

What is the recovery period for wisdom teeth extractions?

We generally recommend 3-5 days of downtime. We usually estimate 7-10 days of mild discomfort, however, some people may experience shorter or longer recovery times. Ultimately, it is all dependent on the patient.

What should I take to alleviate the pain after my extractions?

Please see wisdom teeth post-operative protocols, given in our office and on our website.

I have something white and sharp poking out of the gum near where the extraction was. Should I be concerned?

After surgical extractions, patients may discover small pieces of the bone working their way to the surface of the extraction site (known as a “bone spur”). Don’t worry – this is a common occurrence.

When the tooth is being extracted, pieces of the tooth’s bony socket may sequester off during the healing process. These slivers cannot be integrated into the healing tissues so your body will naturally begin to eject them, causing them to penetrate through the gum tissue.

They typically will fall out on their own if given enough time.

What are dry sockets?

Once the tooth is removed, there is a hole in the bone called a socket. A blood clot forms in that area to protect the bone and nerves underneath.

If that clot becomes dislodged or aggravated, it will cause the bone and nerve to be exposed to air, fluids, and food, causing an infection – or a dry socket.

How do I know if I have a dry socket?

Dry sockets typically occur 4-5 days after wisdom teeth removal. Some symptoms include pain that radiates to your ear and is not alleviated after taking pain medication, bad breath, or an unpleasant taste/smell in your mouth. These are very rare but easily treated.

Will I swell after my wisdom teeth are removed?

After the wisdom teeth removal, it is normal to experience swelling and bruising. Expect peak swelling and discomfort on post-op days 2 and 3.

The swelling usually improves after a few days while the bruising may take a few more to clear up. Use the ice pack as directed by our office.

Can I brush my teeth after getting my wisdom teeth removed?

Start brushing right away, being gentle not to brush directly on the extraction sites.

Can I gargle after getting my wisdom teeth removed?

Avoid gargling for the first 24 hours. Following that, you are able to SWISH LIGHTLY with warm salt water or prescribed mouth wash if given to you but do not vigorously gargle until you are cleared to do so at your follow-up appointment.

What can I eat after my wisdom teeth are removed?

Immediately following surgery, we recommend starting off with clear liquids like 7-up, apple juice, and water. If the patient is able to handle the clear liquids well, then we recommend doing a dairy base (especially before taking any pain medications).

This includes ice cream, milkshakes (without a straw), yogurt, pudding, and cottage cheese.

From there, we recommend sticking with soft, cooler foods including (but not limited to) apple sauce, mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, steamed vegetables, well-cooked pasta, cream of wheat, soft fish, smooth soups, pancakes, canned fruit, beans, and scrambled eggs.

Foods to avoid would include spicy foods, anything with seeds, hard or chewy foods (like chips or crackers), acidic foods and drinks, and anything with small particles (for example – broccoli).

Generally, patients are encouraged to advance as tolerated.

Can I work out after getting my wisdom teeth removed?

We recommend waiting at least 5 days following wisdom teeth removal to exercise or participate in any vigorous activity. Exercising too early could aggravate the blood clot and increase your recovery time as well as discomfort.

Can I travel after getting my wisdom teeth removed?

We recommend waiting at least a day or two following wisdom teeth removal to travel (as mentioned, the third or fourth day is the peak of discomfort).

However, it is safe to fly after or travel after surgery (it will not affect your bleeding or healing process).

Can I smoke after getting my wisdom teeth removed?

Smokers generally have a more prolonged recovery following wisdom teeth removal. We recommend waiting 7 days to smoke.

A blood clot needs to develop over the extraction site in order to heal and the act of inhaling will interfere with this process. This could delay the healing process and potentially lead to dry sockets.