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Frequently Asked Questions: Wisdom Teeth

Should everyone remove their wisdom teeth?

No, some people can safely grow their wisdom teeth without complication.  However, that is not the case for most people.  

When is the best time to get wisdom teeth removed?

The best time to remove wisdom teeth are between the ages of 16 to 25 for most people.

Do I have to remove all four wisdom teeth?

Most people develop four wisdom teeth, and they often will need to remove them all.  However, everyone is different.  Each patient is individually examined and diagnosed by our restorative dentists and oral surgeon.  From there, they will be able to tell you which require removal, if any.

How long does surgery take?

That depends on your situation.  On average, wisdom teeth removal takes less than 10 minutes.  Regardless, you will always be kept comfortable the entire time.

How long does it take to recover from wisdom teeth removal?

Most patients can recover within 3-4 days if they follow their recommended post-operative care.

Does it hurt to remove wisdom teeth?

Often, during the surgical procedure, you won’t feel anything.  You may feel slight pressure, but that would be it.  However, after surgery, for a few days, you may feel some soreness.  We will discuss how to manage pain and prescribe any necessary medication to help you heal comfortably.

What does “impacted” mean?

In the case of wisdom teeth, impacted means teeth that are not able to fully grow (erupt) through the gums.  This is very common—around 90% of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.  And this is the most common reason why people are recommended by their dentist to have their wisdom tooth removed.

What is a “dry socket”?

After a tooth is extracted, the hole (or socket) left takes some time to heal.  A typical socket has blood clot that protects the nerve and bone underneath the extracted tooth from being exposed.  A “dry socket” (medically known as alveolar osteitis) occurs when that clot is removed before your body has sealed it.  This exposes the nerve and bones, which can lead to sharp pains.  

To avoid this complication, here are a few recommendations:

  • Avoid drinking from a straw and smoking until you fully heal  
  • Avoid spitting
  • Avoid touching the socket with your tongue or fingers
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water at least twice daily to keep the site around your socket clean
  • Use a cold compress on the side of your face 10 minutes on/10 minutes off several times during the first 24 hours after surgery. 

Follow all of your dentist’s recommendations.

What should I do if I’m experiencing significantly more pain after surgery?

Contact us immediately so we can check for dry socket.  Your dentist can make recommendations and prescribe medication, such as pain relievers or antibiotics, to help the socket heal.  Aspirin or ibuprofen can help relieve some pain.  If required, your dentist can clean the socket and place a medicated dressing to alleviate discomfort.

And in the meantime, do the following at home:

  • Rinse with salt water twice daily, but do not spit
  • Use a cold compress on the side of your face with the dry socket
  • Stay hydrated to prevent side-effects of pain medication
  • Avoid drink from straws and smoking

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.