If you’re between the ages of 17 and 25, chances are your wisdom teeth are starting to erupt or may have already erupted. Studies show that most men and women will develop these third molars, which form in the back of the mouth, around this time. These teeth often come in crooked and will sometimes damage neighboring teeth. However, there are also times when wisdom teeth don’t erupt at all. According to Bruce Vafa DDS., a California-based holistic dentist with more than 20 years of experience in cosmetic and general dentistry, when this happens, it is because the teeth have become impacted.
For context, impacted wisdom teeth refers to molars that have become stuck beneath the surface of the gums. It is important to note, however, that even fully erupted molars can still cause dental problems. For example, if they come in crooked, it can result in overcrowding so severe that other healthy teeth become malpositioned, says Bruce Vafa DDS with Smile Angels of Beverly Hills. In light of the many problems that wisdom teeth can cause, it is not too surprising to find that over 85 percent of individuals have had them extracted. And many have cited one or more of the following as their reason for doing so:
- Pain or tenderness in the gums
- Swollen or irritated gums
- Pressure or pain that radiates from the jaw
What You Might Not Have Known About Wisdom Teeth
In discussing wisdom teeth, it is worth noting that these third set of molars do not always come in at the same time. Further, at least one out of these four teeth will become impacted, according to a study published by the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. In fact, the study found that about 90 percent of individuals will have at least one impacted molar when their wisdom teeth start to come in. When this happens, most individuals report experiencing excruciating pain, typically because the tooth is not only trapped beneath the gums but also pressing against nerves at the same time.
Even if an individual is fortunate enough to have all four of their wisdom teeth come in straight and at the same time, they are not exactly out of the woods. Generally speaking, when these third molars erupt from the gums, in whatever manner they choose to do so, they don’t have enough enamel to protect them against cavities and decay. To further complicate matters, they are in the back of the mouth, which makes them difficult to reach with a standard toothbrush or even dental floss. Wisdom teeth that end up developing caries, also known as cavities, can cause the following:
Halitosis – Also known as bad breath, halitosis is commonly associated with cavities and tooth decay. And third molars that are damaged by cavities or decay are no exception, especially if they have only partially erupted from the gums as this increases the risk of bacterial infection. Studies show that this is because food particles, tartar, plaque, and other contaminants often get stuck in-between the teeth and gums, which causes a release of foul-smelling sulfur compounds.
Gum disease – The same things that make wisdom teeth prone to cavities that lead to halitosis and even tooth decay can also cause gum disease, according to an article published by the Mayo Clinic. However, it is worth noting that this is more so the case for those with third molars that have only partially erupted from the gums. While different types of gum disease can affect the oral cavity, the one commonly associated with third molars that partially erupt from the gums is known as pericoronitis. For reference, pericoronitis is a type of gum disease characterized by painful, inflamed gums. Along with being the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, gum disease of all kinds can also contribute to the following, according to an article published by the National Health Service, a national and government-funded healthcare system based in the United Kingdom:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attacks
- Pregnancy complications
Wisdom Tooth Extraction and Recovery
Something to note when it comes to wisdom tooth extraction is they are quite common, and nearly all dentists follow the same protocols when performing them. Before the extraction gets underway, a dentist will give their patient one of three types of anesthesia to help keep pain to a minimum, a local anesthetic, IV sedation, or general anesthesia. From there, the process is no different than any other tooth extraction insofar as the dentist will use special tools to loosen and ultimately pull the tooth from supporting bones and surrounding tissue. For impacted wisdom teeth, however, the process is a little bit different. In these cases, the dentist will first have to cut away a small amount of gum tissue to gain access to the tooth before pulling it. For those who might be wondering how long does wisdom teeth surgery take, most procedures that involve extracting all four wisdom teeth takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
The Average Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal in Los Angeles
On average, the cost of wisdom teeth removal in Los Angeles, according to Cost Helper Health, one of the most trusted online resources for pricing information on medical procedures and personal care, is about $75 to $200 per tooth. The cost, however, is a bit higher to extract impacted wisdom teeth, typically between $225 and $600 per tooth. It is worth noting that either price range will typically include the cost of a local anesthetic. Lastly, extractions that require the use of IV sedation or general anesthesia will often cost $1,000 or more per tooth, according to the same data published by Cost Helper Health.
What to Expect Post Wisdom Teeth Extraction
One of the biggest things to be mindful of after having wisdom teeth extracted is that you will have to make a few temporary changes to your diet. For example, it might be a good idea to avoid foods that are too hot as well as foods that are difficult to bite or chew, such as apples and corn on the cob. To understand why this is important, it helps to know a little something about wisdom teeth removal aftermath. According to the American Dental Association, most individuals that have had their third molars pulled report experiencing the following:
- Swelling of the mouth and cheeks
- Wisdom teeth removal pain
- Lips or gums that feel numb
Wisdom Teeth Recovery Time and the Five Stages of Healing
Now that we have a better understanding of what to expect during wisdom tooth extraction, along with how dentists go about keeping wisdom teeth removal pain to a minimum during the procedure, let’s take a moment to focus on wisdom teeth extraction recovery once patients return home. Firstly, it can take as long as two weeks for the gums to completely heal after an individual has had their wisdom teeth extracted. During these two weeks, the healing process occurs in the following five stages:
One day after the extraction – The first 24 hours into wisdom teeth recovery time is when blood clots start to form. And this is a crucial step in wisdom teeth recovery as these clumps of blood can help stop excessive bleeding.
Two to three days after the extraction – This phase of wisdom teeth recovery time is one that is characterized by a reduction in swelling of their mouth and cheeks.
Seven days after the extraction – The seven days after an individual has had their wisdom teeth pulled is a time worthy of celebration. During this stage of wisdom teeth removal recovery, most individuals will schedule a follow-up appointment with their dentist to have their stitches removed.
Eight to ten days after the extraction – During this part of wisdom teeth removal recovery, most individuals will experience a noticeable decline in jaw stiffness and soreness.
Two weeks after the extraction – At this point, any signs of bruising left on the face will start to fade away. Also, around this same time is when most individuals return to eating some of their favorite foods.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery Tips That Can Help Speed up Healing Time
There are multiple ways to get rid of wisdom teeth removal pain faster and further reduce the risk of developing an infection, some of which include the following:
- Not smoking
- Not taking aspirin
- Not consuming alcohol
- Avoiding strenuous exercise
Final Thoughts on Wisdom Teeth Recovery
While there are always exceptions, wisdom teeth can cause a wide range of oral and physical health problems. Fortunately, getting them extracted is covered by most major dental insurance policies. And thanks to local anesthetics and other forms of sedation, the extraction process is not as painful as some might think. That said, if you have questions concerning wisdom teeth recovery time or would like more information on any of the topics covered in this article, you’re encouraged to schedule a consultation with Smile Angels of Beverly Hills today.