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Wisdom Teeth Removal

For millions of people every year, the eruption–and often removal–of wisdom teeth is a proverbial rite of passage, usually occurring during the late teen years to early 20s. While not every person needs to have any or all of their wisdom teeth removed, many people do because they do not have the space for their wisdom teeth to come in naturally or the teeth would not push through the gum line in an ideal way. In these cases, if the wisdom teeth were not removed, it could be detrimental to the patient’s oral health, possibly causing damage to their smile and extreme pain. For these reasons, wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most common dental procedures.

As a full-service dental care provider, Monarch Dental offers everything you need to protect your oral health, including wisdom teeth removal, all in the same convenient office. From general dentistry services like exams and x-rays to specialty treatments like oral surgery and extractions, you’ll receive the same excellent standard of care from our entire team.

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What is wisdom tooth extraction? 

Wisdom tooth extraction is the process of removing one or more wisdom teeth. This surgical procedure is conducted by a dentist or oral surgeon for patients who are normally pre-teens, teenagers, or adults. Part of the reason wisdom tooth extraction only occurs in this population is due to the nature of wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are the final, third set of adult molars that are usually the last to fully erupt, typically long after all the other adult teeth have come in. Many times, the patient’s teeth are already spaced and set before the wisdom teeth start to push through the gumline, which can cause painful crowding or other concerns in the oral structure. A dentist or oral surgeon can use x-rays to assess a patient’s wisdom teeth and determine if they need to be extracted. 

Why is wisdom tooth extraction recommended?

There are multiple reasons why a person would need to have their wisdom teeth removed, many of which are diagnosed by a dentist or oral surgeon through x-rays. Since there are 4 wisdom teeth molars, an upper and lower set on either side, x-rays of each region will need to be viewed independently to determine how the molar is developing in that area. Because each molar can develop differently, treatment will need to be individualized not only by person but also by tooth.

Some of the main questions dentists ask when looking at x-rays are:  

  • Would the wisdom teeth impact or crowd the current teeth?
  • Are the wisdom teeth causing the jaw to curve?
  • Are the wisdom teeth growing in an incorrect direction?
  • Will there be concerns for proper oral hygiene if the wisdom teeth grow in?
  • Is there a current cavity or gum disease issue?

If a dentist decides that the answer to any of these questions would be “yes,” it is likely that wisdom tooth extraction is an ideal procedure to help maintain proper oral health care. 

What are common reasons for wisdom tooth extraction?

Wisdom tooth extraction might be suggested for multiple reasons, and some dentists may prefer that patients consider removing their wisdom teeth–even if they aren’t currently causing problems–because of the future concerns that may occur with having a third set of molars. However, that does not mean that every person or patient needs to have any or all of their wisdom teeth removed. Two of the primary reasons wisdom tooth extraction is deemed necessary by dentists are if the wisdom teeth will negatively impact the current teeth and if the patient has pre-existing or existing cavities or gum disease.

  • Potential for wisdom teeth having a negative impact

Wisdom teeth are the very last teeth to come in, so many of the other teeth have been established by the time they are ready to come in. Some people have even already had braces and had them removed before experiencing any concerns with their wisdom teeth. In these situations, the wisdom teeth may need additional space in the mouth, which would result in the current teeth shifting, pushing forward or backward, or turning to create the necessary room. It could also impact the jaw, forcing it to curve to accommodate the lack of room.

There is also the possibility that the wisdom teeth are not growing in the ideal direction for them to easily come through the gum line without harming the patient’s teeth or jaws. This situation can result in wisdom teeth being trapped, or impacted, which can cause extreme pain. 

  • Pre-existing oral health concerns

A common concern for dentists associated with a patient’s wisdom teeth is the state of the patient’s oral care. These concerns may exist before or after wisdom teeth have the chance to go through the gum line. Any signs of pre-existing oral health concerns, such as cavities or gum disease, are warning signs for dentists. These molars are the third set and are located at the very back of the mouth, and as such can be hard to reach and clean effectively for some patients. This means that any pre-existing oral health issues are likely to impact or be exacerbated by this set of molars as well. If the wisdom teeth have already come in and the patient has oral health concerns, they will likely occur in this region as well. 

Do I need my wisdom teeth removed?

Whether or not you need your wisdom teeth removed depends heavily on your unique situation, because each individual’s mouth is different.

At Monarch Dental, we recommend that you schedule an appointment with a dentist to discuss wisdom tooth extraction and get x-rays if you or your child is: 

  • Between the ages of 15 and 27
  • Experiencing tooth pain, jaw pain, earaches, and/or headaches
  • Having continual bad breath or a sour taste even after proper oral hygiene routines
  • Noticing a change in biting

Without a proper assessment, the wisdom teeth will continue to grow in, possibly causing large amounts of pain, a distinctive change in the oral structures and smile, and other oral care concerns. 

What is the wisdom tooth extraction process?

While most wisdom teeth extractions follow the same general process, there will be some slight variations to the individual nature of the patient’s mouth and how the wisdom teeth are developing. It’s important to meet with your dentist or oral health care team about what your wisdom tooth extraction process will entail. Most wisdom teeth extractions consist of:

Dental Consultation

The first step in the wisdom tooth extraction process is a consultation with an oral health care team, which includes a dentist and possibly an oral surgeon. During this consultation, the patient should expect to get x-rays of their mouth, focusing on their wisdom teeth. A consultation and plan will be created based on the individual’s situation and the findings from the x-rays. It’s very important to discuss your medical history, current medications, and concerns you have during this consultation. Discussing any anxiety that you may be experiencing is another important factor of the consultation process because it gives the dentist or oral surgeon the ability to discuss the procedure in detail to help reduce any emotional concerns. 

Procedure preparation

Wisdom tooth extractions surgically remove the wisdom tooth from the patient’s mouth, so the process does include an incision into the gum line to access the tooth, or multiple incisions if several teeth are being extracted. In addition to a local anesthetic to numb the mouth and gums, most patients will also be administered some type of sedation anesthesia such as nitrous oxide to  ensure that the patient is not in pain during the procedure. A general rule is that if there is just one tooth removed, a local anesthetic will be applied, whereas the removal of multiple teeth suggests the need for anesthesia, but these decisions are made by the oral healthcare team and the individual. In either situation, most patients are not allowed to drive home after the procedure and should plan for at least a couple of hours to accommodate for anesthesia, surgery, and in-office recovery. 

Surgical procedure

The surgical procedure normally takes under an hour but can vary depending on the number of wisdom teeth removed as well as the reasons associated with the removal. Again, this process is very individualized toward the patient’s needs. Typically, the dentist or oral surgeon will make an incision into the gum to access the wisdom tooth. These teeth are generally large, so the next step is to break up the tooth to make it easier to remove through the incision. Once all of the pieces of the tooth are removed, the empty area (also known as the socket) will be cleaned thoroughly. Depending on the size of the incision, dissolvable stitches may be added to help the gum and tissues at the incision site heal and limit the potential for food or bacteria to enter the site. 

Another route to sealing the incision site is by creating a blood clot in the socket, which is the space where the tooth was removed. This is a common but extremely important step. Patients will be asked to bite on a rolled piece of gauze to stop the bleeding. Many times, patients are asked to bite on the gauze for at least thirty seconds in intervals until the gauze no longer has large amounts of blood on it. Biting down on the gauze while swallowing the saliva that is naturally produced causes pressure at the incision site, or socket, and helps the blood clot there. This clot assists in post-surgery care, but if it becomes dislodged it can create a dry socket, which is one of the concerns that occur after wisdom tooth extraction. 

Post-procedure considerations

Wisdom teeth extraction surgery impacts people differently, but common symptoms described after wisdom teeth extraction include swelling, bleeding, tooth and jaw sensitivity or tenderness, and drowsiness. Many of these symptoms can last from a few days up to just over a week. Monitoring these symptoms is an important step in post-surgery care, specifically looking to determine if there are signs of a dry socket or infection. 

Dry Sockets

Sockets are the space created after the wisdom tooth extraction and have usually been sealed by biting on a piece of gauze to create a blood clot. However, if not cared for properly after the procedure, this blood clot can move or become dislodged. When the clot is dislodged, bacteria and food can enter the incision site. If this happens, the site may become infected. Once infected, the socket is known as a “dry socket” and it becomes extremely painful because the tissues, bone, and nerve endings that are impacted by the surgery are exposed. 

Dry socket prevention 

Most dry sockets can be prevented by following post-surgical care suggestions provided by the dentist or oral surgeon, but some specific activities to reduce the potential of a dry socket forming include: 

  • Not using a straw or forcefully spitting for at least 4 days after the surgery
  • Refraining from smoking or drinking while the incision is recovering 
  • Limiting oral care for the first 24 hours to warm, saline rinses and carefully continuing normal oral care routine as suggested by the dentist
  • Avoiding dry, small, and hard foods as they can get lodged in the socket
  • Drinking mainly cool water during the recovery process

When should you to contact a dentist about wisdom teeth removal?

It can be difficult to determine when a symptom becomes so severe that it needs urgent dental evaluation, but it’s always best to contact your dentist or oral surgeon if you have any concerns during your recovery.

While not an exhaustive list, the following symptoms may be indications that you need to contact a dentist immediately for a follow-up appointment: 

  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Bleeding or pus continually coming from the incision site
  • Fever or a high temperature, such as one that is over 101 degrees
  • Pain that cannot be reduced through the prescribed medication
  • Foul tasting or smelling breath, even after saline rinses and oral care routines
  • Inability to reduce swelling after the third day, even with cool compresses

What is post-surgery care for wisdom teeth removal?

Patients who have just had their wisdom teeth removed will be provided with a post-surgery guide that informs them on the proper actions to care for the incision until it is healed. These may vary by individual, so it’s suggested to discuss these with the dentist or oral surgeon.

Some routine suggestions for care after a wisdom tooth extraction include: 

  • Resting for the first 24-36 hours
  • Applying cool compresses to swollen cheeks
  • Eating soft foods that are not spicy and regularly drinking cool water
  • Taking medication as prescribed 
  • Refraining from alcohol and tobacco use during the recovery process
  • Using saline rinses approximately every 2 hours and after eating for the first 48 hours, possibly longer
  • Gently continue your normal oral healthcare routine of brushing and flossing after 24 hours

How much does wisdom teeth removal cost?

The cost of wisdom teeth removal can vary depending on factors such as the size and number of teeth being extracted, whether it is a dentist or oral surgeon performing the procedure, and if there are any additional procedures that need to take place either before or after the extraction.

On average, each tooth’s cost of removal ranges between $75 and $250. The cost to remove 4 wisdom teeth, the most common procedure, is between $600 and $1200, depending on your oral health situation, but these are just estimates; contact your nearest Monarch Dental location for exact pricing.

Since it is considered critical preventative care, most dental plans will cover the partial or full costs of wisdom teeth removal, and Monarch Dental accepts most major insurances. If you don’t have insurance, Monarch Dental also offers our OneSmile dental plan for discounts on all dental services as well as other benefits like free x-rays, exams, and consultations for one low annual fee. 

Safe, Affordable Wisdom Teeth Removal from Monarch Dental

Monarch Dental is proud to be your family’s choice for comprehensive dental care services for everyone, at every stage of life, including wisdom teeth consultations and removal. We make getting the specialized treatment you need easy and affordable with multiple locations, flexible scheduling and financing options, and a full staff of experienced professionals at every office. Don’t wait for wisdom teeth to cause you problems; schedule an appointment today!