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Wisdom Teeth: Information, Extraction and Dry Socket

Synopsis: Information on wisdom teeth including extraction surgery impacted wisdom teeth and dry socket pain.1

Author: Disabled World Contact:

Published: 2010-09-10 Updated: 2019-03-30

Main Digest

A wisdom tooth is any of the usually four third molars, including mandibular third molar and maxillary third molar.

Although formally defined as third molars, the common name is wisdom teeth because they appear so late. A wisdom tooth or third molar is one of the three molars per quadrant of the human dentition. It is the most posterior (most distal) of the three. Wisdom teeth generally appear between the ages of 17 and 25. Most adults have four wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth (often notated clinically as M3 for third molar) have long been identified as a source of problems and continue to be the most commonly impacted teeth in the human mouth.

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to grow and usually grow at the age of 20 or 25, which is why they are considered wiser. A normal adult will grow four wisdom teeth, two on the bottom and two on the top, but it is possible to have more, in which case they are called supernumerary teeth.

Wisdom teeth commonly affect other teeth as they develop, becoming impacted or "come in sideways". They are often extracted when this occurs. Wisdom teeth extraction is a very common oral surgery. Dentists can extract them easily but many of them are not too keen to do it because of possible side effects such as disruption of sinus functionality, jaw pain and shifting of surrounding teeth. If you are aged 35 years or more, the complication risks are quite high. If you are over 50 years old, the risk levels are even higher because the bone have fused with the teeth due to the aging process.

Patients who are to have dentures constructed should have any wisdom teeth removed. If a wisdom tooth erupts beneath a denture it will cause severe irritation and if removed, the patient will need to have a new denture constructed as the shape of the gum will have changed.

Impacted Wisdom Tooth

An impacted wisdom tooth is a tooth that has not fully grown out of the gum.

Impacted wisdom teeth are almost certain to cause problems if left in place. This is particularly true of the lower wisdom teeth.

Such problems may occur suddenly and often at the most inconvenient times - See What is an Impacted Tooth.

Removing a Wisdom Tooth

This surgical procedure involves administration of local anesthesia.

The surgeon cuts open the gums to cut the bone and the wisdom teeth and extract them in bits or as a whole. At the end of the procedure he sutures the bleeding gums together, some stitches dissolve over time and some have to be removed after a few days. Your dentist will tell you whether your stitches need to be removed. After the extraction the gum area is cleaned and a gauze is placed along with antiseptic medication.

The healing process and progress after the procedure will not be the same for every patient. In general though, the simpler the extraction process, the faster healing will be.

Call your dentist or oral surgeon if you still have bleeding 24 hours after your surgery.

You can help reduce swelling after dental surgery by administering an ice pack for about 10 minutes at a time and repeating the same over the affected area causes the shrinking of blood vessels and nerve endings to constrain and stop bleeding and swelling.

What is Dry Socket?

Dry socket (alveolar osteitis) is a temporary dental condition that sometimes occurs after extraction of a permanent adult tooth.

A dry socket is a painful inflammation of the alveolar bone (not an infection); it occurs when the blood clots at an extraction site are dislodged, fall out prematurely, or fail to form. It is still not known how they form or why they form. In some cases, this is beyond the control of the patient. However, in other cases this happens because the patient has disregarded the instructions given by the surgeon. Smoking, blowing one's nose, spitting, or drinking with a straw in disregard to the surgeon's instructions can cause this, along with other activities that change the pressure inside of the mouth, such as sneezing or playing a musical instrument.

The risk of developing a dry socket is greater in smokers, in diabetics, if the patient has had a previous dry socket, in the lower jaw, and following complicated extractions.

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Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: Disabled World. Electronic Publication Date: 2010-09-10 - Revised: 2019-03-30. Title: Wisdom Teeth: Information, Extraction and Dry Socket, Source: <a href=>Wisdom Teeth: Information, Extraction and Dry Socket</a>. Retrieved 2021-03-07, from - Reference: DW#283-5300.