Wisdom Tooth Extractions – St. Louis, MO
Comprehensive Care for Wisdom Teeth
Your third molars (also known as “wisdom teeth”) are typically the last adult teeth to develop. They’re located towards the back of your mouth, right behind your second molars. While every patient is different, they will typically emerge somewhere between the ages of 16 and 22. This is why they’re called wisdom teeth – this age is typically associated with new maturity and wisdom.
It is believed that these teeth initially developed to help our caveman ancestors eat the course roots, vegetables, and tough meets that made up the bulk of their diet. By the time a person reached their late teens or early twenties, it’s likely that they would have completely worn down or even broken one set of their molars because of these teeth-averse foods, which the wisdom teeth then replaced. However, as humans progressed and evolved, so did cooking methods, making food softer and easier to chew. As a result, these teeth were no longer needed, and over time, the size of the human jaw began to naturally shrink.
Because of this, there is often not enough room in the jaw to accommodate a third set of molars. This often causes a whole host of dangerous consequences for patients, such as impaction (when the tooth is partially or fully trapped beneath the bone). Adjacent teeth may also experience a higher risk of damage and decay, and cysts can form as well over time.
Here are just a few of the symptoms that the wisdom teeth can cause:
- Chronic jaw pain
- Oral pain/swelling
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, we strongly recommend that you schedule a consultation with our St. Louis wisdom tooth expert, Dr. Moreland, for further assistance. Contact us today!
Wisdom Tooth Extraction FAQ
Wisdom tooth extraction is a very common procedure, and your oral surgeon is here to make sure you feel comfortable and confident from the beginning of the process to the end. Our patients often ask questions like the ones below, and we’re always happy to listen to your concerns. Let Dr. Moreland know right away if you are unclear about something regarding the procedure.
How Do I Know If I Need a Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
When your wisdom teeth start to come in, you might notice pain in the back of your mouth as well as swelling or jaw stiffness. Also, since erupting wisdom teeth could give bacteria a chance to enter your gums, you might develop cavities, and your gums may become red and swollen. Even if you don’t notice such symptoms, you should have your mouth checked via X-rays on a regular basis if you are around the age when wisdom teeth normally emerge.
Can I Put Off My Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
Delaying any kind of oral surgery, including wisdom tooth extractions, can be harmful. The longer wisdom teeth are left in your mouth, the more damage they can do to your jaw, sinuses and other teeth. They may also make it more difficult for you to clean your mouth well, increasing the risk of tooth decay or gum disease. The long-term complications simply aren’t worth it; it’s better to have your wisdom teeth removed as soon as possible.
Does Everyone Need Their Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
Believe it or not, some people are able to keep their wisdom teeth without any problems. If they can erupt safely and don’t cause pain (and if you can reach them with a toothbrush and dental floss to keep them clean), an extraction might not be necessary. However, we will recommend the procedure if there isn’t enough room for them, if you experience tooth or gum pain, if the teeth come in crooked, or if a cyst forms.
Why are Some Extractions More Complicated Than Others?
A wisdom tooth might be more difficult to extract depending on its position in your mouth. We can perform a simple extraction if the tooth has already erupted. However, if it’s stuck under the gums, we might need to make an incision. In especially complex cases, the tooth has become stuck in the jaw as well; if this happens, we might need to break the tooth into pieces and remove each piece separately.
What Happens If I Don’t Extract My Wisdom Teeth?
When left alone, your wisdom teeth might push your other teeth and crowd them together; this is painful and can contribute to bite problems. If a cyst forms around the wisdom teeth, it could hollow out the jaw and damage the nerves. Other issues include sinus pain, inflamed gums, and cavities.
What is Recovery Like After Tooth Extraction?
It can take some time after tooth extraction for your mouth to fully heal. A blood clot will form over the socket where the tooth was removed; avoid spitting or using a straw so that you don’t accidentally remove this clot. Use pain medicine as directed; we might give you a prescription, or you might be able to use an over-the-counter product. Eat soft foods for the first 24 hours and gradually reintroduce semisoft foods into your diet as you’re able.