Did you know our ancestors needed wisdom teeth to be able to eat raw meat? Today, our diets are softer with cooked food. As a result, our jaws have evolved to become smaller, but our wisdom teeth still grow.

The average human mouth has space for 28 teeth, but if we include wisdom teeth, there are 32 teeth in total. We don’t need our wisdom teeth and because most people don’t have room for them, they can cause crowding, infections, bone damage, nerve damage, and other issues. For this reason, wisdom teeth extraction is typically recommended before they cause painful problems in the future. 

Understandably, patients have a lot of questions about oral surgery. When it comes to wisdom teeth extraction services, our Medicine Hat dental clinic team is experienced in this procedure and can give you all of the information you need. Keep reading to learn more about what you can expect with wisdom teeth removal.

When to remove wisdom teeth

Even if your wisdom teeth are not causing you issues now, a wisdom teeth extraction is recommended before they cause painful problems down the road. Wisdom teeth extraction is typically done in the late teen years the too early 20s because the recovery time is faster and the procedure is easier. The older you get, the more the wisdom teeth roots solidify into the jawbone which increases the risk of nerve damage.

To determine whether you need wisdom teeth removal, your dentist will complete an examination with X-rays which can show if the teeth are impacted, growing at an angle, or may lead to problems in the future.

We recommend a wisdom teeth extraction if:

  • They are impacted, which means they are either stuck under the gum or are only able to partially break through the gums.
  • They are causing gum pain, swelling, pressure, or tenderness, which can be signs of infection.
  • The X-ray shows that they are growing ‘sideways’ (into the back molars), which can potentially push against your teeth and cause crowding, leading to crooked teeth and a misaligned bite over time.

What to expect with wisdom teeth extraction

Once you’ve had an initial consultation with your dentist, you will schedule a day that works for you. Keep in mind that you may need to take a few days off of work or school to allow your gums to heal. Remember that wisdom teeth extraction is a type of surgery, so you want to take some time off to rest and take it easy. You will need a family member or friend to drive you to and from the dentist’s office. 

During the consultation, your dentist will present you with some options for anesthesia and sedation, including conscious sedation or whether you want to be asleep during the procedure. Even if you make a decision during the first appointment, you can always change your mind depending on how you’re feeling on the day of.

The process differs between patients, depending on how many wisdom teeth need to be removed, the patient’s comfort level, and the complexity of the surgery.

Here’s what you can typically expect with a standard wisdom teeth removal appointment:

  • Before the surgery begins, your dentist will explain the process including what you can expect to feel if you’re awake for the extraction and how long the entire process will take.
  • Your dentist will use a numbing gel before injecting local anesthesia to each of the extraction sites and, if you choose, sedation anesthesia.
  • A small incision will be made in the gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone.
  • Any bone that blocks access to the tooth root is removed.
  • Your dentist may dive the tooth into sections if it’s easier to remove it in pieces.
  • The tooth is removed and the site is cleaned. 
  • The wound may be stitched closed, but sometimes the incision is so small that it’s not necessary.
  • Gauze is placed over the extraction site to control bleeding and to encourage a blood clot to form.

After the surgery, your dentist will ask that you remain in the office for at least 15 minutes for monitoring. At this time, you’ll be given instructions on how to care for your gums, a prescription for pain medication, what to eat, food and activities to avoid, and any signs of infection or other issues to watch out for.

Frequently asked questions about wisdom teeth removal

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed if they aren’t causing me problems?

If there’s a risk of your wisdom teeth causing you issues in the future, we want to remove them before this happens. Even if they aren’t posing any problems now, if your dentist recommends an extraction, the best thing you can do is be proactive and have them removed before they cause pain or discomfort.

Why should I get my wisdom teeth removed?

Some of the most common reasons to have your wisdom teeth removed are if they’re impacted, they’re causing you pain, or they are growing in a way that puts your teeth at risk of overcrowding. Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure and once they’re gone, you don’t have to worry about them! Some patients choose to have them extracted for peace of mind. 

Is wisdom teeth extraction painful?

You may feel some pressure during the process (if you’re awake) and some discomfort after the procedure as your gums heal, but wisdom teeth extraction should not be painful. Advancements in dental technology have made it possible for many dental treatments to be painless with a quicker recovery time.

How long does the wisdom teeth removal process last?

This depends on how many wisdom teeth you need to remove. For all 4 wisdom teeth, the surgery typically lasts about 45 minutes with 10 minutes for each tooth. With pre-surgery prep and post-surgery monitoring, you can expect the entire appointment to take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. 

How long does a wisdom tooth extraction take to heal?

Everyone heals differently and while some recovery can take as little as a few days, others can take 2 weeks. What you do after surgery can determine how quickly you can heal, so it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions. Be sure to rest after surgery, avoid drinking through a straw, change out your gauges, and eat soft foods. 

If you’re looking to have your wisdom teeth removed in Medicine Hat, contact us to book your initial consultation. We do direct-to-insurance billing for your convenience and can answer any questions you have about our wisdom teeth extraction services.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Gurshant Grew - D.D.S. on February 15, 2022

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