In Houston and Memorial City, Texas

Unless you’re lucky, at some point in your life–typically between the ages of 17 and 25–you’ll need to have at least one wisdom tooth taken out. These “third molars” come in at the back of the mouth, one in each upper and lower quadrant. However, they often come in only partially, or not at all, and must be removed. 

Roughly 85% of people go through wisdom tooth extraction surgery, which tells you just how common it is. Nevertheless, because it is still a surgery, we understand there can be anxiety associated with having wisdom teeth extraction performed. Here are a few reasons why you should trust Bunker Hill Dentistry with your wisdom teeth issues today:

    • Pain relief – We can tailor pain management for every patient’s needs (and anxiety levels) with local anesthesia, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and anti-anxiety medications, or general anesthesia. With effective relief, the procedure will be painless.
    • Serene setting – Our office is designed to provide a calm, relaxing environment to help put your mind at ease during treatment. Take a tour.
    • Fast treatment – Depending on the number of teeth to be removed and the severity of the situation, your surgery can often be done in less than one hour. 
    • Specialists – Your procedure will be carried out by Dr. Le, a dentist experienced in oral surgery.
    • Timely care – Waiting too long to treat impacted wisdom teeth can lead to orthodontic problems, infections, or even abscesses.

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Symptoms of Problems with Wisdom Teeth

Here are the signs that it may be time to have as few as one or as many as all four wisdom teeth removed:

  • Gum pain: Wisdom teeth can create pain behind the gums in several ways: If they’re hard to reach they can be difficult to brush and can become infected due to food being trapped in the area. Partial eruption can also inflame the gums and make them prone to infection. 
  • Crooked eruption: When wisdom teeth come in at an odd angle, even if they erupt fully, they can affect the alignment of your other teeth over time or even damage them.  
  • Cysts: Although they may be asymptomatic for months, cysts that have formed on wisdom teeth when the sac that contains them fills with fluid can eat away at the jaw bone and cause a serious medical situation, including a tumor. 
  • Other symptoms: Especially if your wisdom teeth become impacted, or blocked from erupting by the jaw bone, you may experience jaw pain or swelling around the jaw, bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth upon chewing food, or even difficulty opening your mouth.

 

What About Asymptomatic Wisdom Teeth?

While most adults have four wisdom teeth, it’s not always necessary to remove all four. Any wisdom teeth that aren’t currently presenting any problems are known as asymptomatic. 

Some dentists recommend removing all four wisdom teeth, even asymptomatic ones, at the same time because the surgery is more difficult and more likely to involve complications later on. Others feel that the added risk of removing non-problematic teeth is not worth the potential benefit of preventing infections or other issues down the road. 

Dr. Le will assess your teeth and advise you of the best course of action to take for your unique situation.

 

What to Expect from Your Wisdom Tooth Surgery

Wisdom teeth x-ray

An x-ray will reveal the status of your wisdom teeth. Photo credit: Niels Heidenreich

The first step toward wisdom tooth surgery is the initial assessment, where Dr. Le discusses the treatment with you and answers any questions you may have. Then you will schedule your procedure for another day, giving you time to make travel plans for getting home, organizing time off work, and taking care of other arrangements.

The surgery is out-patient and typically takes less than an hour. Once the anesthesia has been administered via the method you and Dr. Le discussed (more on this below), he makes an incision in the gum to access the tooth and removes bone that is blocking the tooth root. He then removes the tooth and cleans the area of any debris. 

Finally, he uses dissolvable stitches to close the wound and encourage healing and pads the area with gauze. This process is repeated on each tooth until each intended wisdom tooth is removed, at which point he reduces the anesthesia, bringing you back to alertness. You’re welcome to rest and wake up until you feel ready to leave. 

 

Anesthesia Options

You have three options for anesthesia during your wisdom tooth extraction:

1. Local anesthesia

Many wisdom teeth removal surgeries are able to be performed by simply numbing the area via injections. This will inhibit you from feeling any pain during the process yet allow you to remain awake throughout. 

 

2. Sedation

If you feel the need for a sedative to relax you during the procedure without putting you completely under, Dr. Le can provide it via nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” conveyed through an oxygen mask. This will be done in addition to local anesthesia so that the area of the tooth extraction is numb, and you will have no pain nor much awareness of the procedure while it’s underway. You may even fall asleep but will regain your senses quickly upon waking. 

 

3. General anesthesia

This option is reserved for only extreme cases as it’s inherently riskier than local anesthetic and takes longer to recover from. General anesthesia renders you completely unconscious and you will have no memory of the procedure or pain during it. 

 

Wisdom Tooth Surgery Recovery

Depending on your type of anesthesia, you may be groggy after your surgery; this is why a ride home is usually necessary. Your mouth may continue to bleed throughout the day, and that’s normal, as are some pain and swelling that can last for a couple days or as long as a week. These can be treated with over-the-counter medications and/or ice packs, or painkillers can be prescribed. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics. 

You need to take it easy on your mouth for at least 24 hours after surgery. That means eating only soft foods, excluding alcohol and caffeine and anything very hot. You should also wait to floss or brush your teeth during this time; you may rinse with salt water for pain relief but do not spit, simply let the water run out of your mouth. Avoid using straws and smoking, as well, as the suction action can cause a painful dry socket at the site the tooth was removed. 

Maintaining good oral hygiene is very important in the weeks and months after surgery, as infections can still develop long after the teeth are removed. 

We will give you a list of instructions for your recovery before you leave our office on the day of the surgery.

 

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