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Wisdom Teeth Symptoms, Removal Surgery, Recovery and Aftercare

Wisdom Teeth Facts

Wisdom teeth are the most common problem that occurs in adulthood.  These teeth are named wisdom teeth because they erupt at the age of 17 to 21 years of age, in which humans get the ability to think and act using knowledge. Wisdom teeth or third molars (M3s) are the last, most posteriorly placed permanent teeth to erupt.  Wisdom teeth won’t give you wisdom but for sure it would cause a lot of pain and infections and discomfort in some cases.

These wisdom teeth show more variation in development than any other teeth in the mouth. Wisdom teeth are remnants from our ancestors with powerful large jaws along with these teeth that were useful for chewing food that is hard, rough, and plant tissue. With human evolution and when we began cooking our food, chewing became much easier, and our jaws became smaller and our teeth remained in better shape. In the modern generation, most of the wisdom teeth do not have sufficient space to erupt because of smaller jaws. Teeth may become twisted, tilted, or displaced as they try to emerge. They often cause a lot of pain and many other dental problems.

Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean as they are located at the corner of the mouth where food can get trapped in them. This trapped food leads to the formation of plaque which is one of the main causes of the Cavity formation.

Problems with Wisdom Teeth Eruption

Wisdom Teeth is a common cause of dental pain in many. As per studies 80% of wisdom tooth which are causing pain need to be extracted at some point. Below are some of the problems caused by wisdom teeth.

  • Dental Impaction: fails to erupt in the dental arch.
  • Partially erupted wisdom tooth
  • Pericoronitis
  • Pain and Swelling
  • Overcrowding and Misalignment
  • Dentigerous Cyst

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

An impacted wisdom tooth is a tooth that, for some reason, has been blocked from breaking through the gum. This can be caused by a physical barrier, such as other teeth, or when the tooth is angled away from its position. Completely unerupted wisdom teeth usually do not show any symptoms, but they may sometimes develop cysts.

Partially or fully impacted the tooth may

  • Embedded in soft gum tissue or bone
  • Grow at an angle towards the next tooth
  • Grow at an angle towards the back of the mouth
  • Grow at a right angle to the other teeth, as if the wisdom tooth is “lying down” within the jawbone
  • Trapped within the jaw bone

Impacted Wisdom Teeth Symptoms

  • Pain and swelling behind the last teeth
  • Difficulty in mouth opening
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Pain when chewing and biting
  • Crowding of nearby teeth

wisdom teeth surgery and treatment

Partially Erupted or Partially Impacted Wisdom Teeth

A partially erupted tooth is a tooth that has not fully emerged through the gums. Because of partial eruption, only some part of the crown is visible in the mouth. Partially erupted teeth are difficult to clean and so there are more chances of getting cavity and gingivitis.

Symptoms of Partially Erupted Wisdom Teeth

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty in mouth opening
  • Damage to an adjacent tooth


Pericoronitis is inflammation of the tissue surrounding a third molar or wisdom tooth. The condition most often occurs in molars that are partially impacted, or not fully visible. It’s also more common in lower molars than in the upper ones.

The main complication of Pericoronitis is pain and swelling around the molar. You may also have difficulty biting down or experience lockjaw. In some cases, the infection can spread from the affected tooth to other areas of your mouth.

Pericoronitis Symptoms

  • severe pain near your back teeth
  • swelling of gum tissue
  • pain when swallowing
  • the discharge of pus
  • trismus (lockjaw)
  • bad breathe
  • bad taste in the mouth

Dentigerous Cyst

This cyst is always associated initially with the crown of an impacted, embedded or unerupted tooth. The most common sites of this cyst are mandibular and maxillary third molars. The Dentigerous cyst is potentially capable of becoming an aggressive tumor.

Symptoms of Dentigerous Cyst

  • Pain
  • Expansion of bone which leads to facial asymmetry
  • Extreme displacement of teeth
  • Severe root resorption of adjacent teeth

How to Diagnose an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

Your dentist can tell if you have impacted wisdom tooth by examining your teeth and taking a simple x-ray of your mouth. An x-ray can show whether your tooth is impacted and if other teeth or bones are damaged.

Wisdom Tooth Treatment

What is the treatment for fully impacted wisdom teeth?

If you notice any symptoms of fully impacted teeth, then consult the dentist for proper treatment. If your teeth are impacted, your dentist will discuss the benefits and risks of surgery. It is a minor surgery usually performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. This surgery will be done under local anesthesia and usually an outpatient procedure. Sometimes general anesthesia is given based on the patient’s condition.

Wisdom Teeth Surgery

Before planning surgery, your dentist will collect all your health history. Taking a history is very important before the planning of surgery. Anticoagulants are prescribed to some patients (who underwent heart surgeries are warned to stop these anticoagulants two days before the surgery). Patients with a history of diabetes are asked to control their blood sugar levels. On the day of surgery blood tests are a must check the sugar level. Usually, these surgeries are needed in the age group of 17 to 25. In these age groups, diabetes and hypertension are not seen generally.

During the procedure, the surgeon will make a cut in your gums and removes the problematic bone piece before removing the tooth. After removing the tooth they will close the wound with stitches and pack the space with gauze. This entire surgery takes about 30 to 60 minutes.

If the impacted wisdom tooth has a Dentigerous cyst then the treatment procedure will be different. The treatment of Dentigerous cyst usually depends on its size. Smaller cysts can be surgically removed, the larger cysts which involve serious loss of bone and thin bone are often treated by insertion of a surgical drain.

Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Painful?

At the time of surgery, anesthesia will be given so you don’t feel any pain. Once the anesthesia effect lost you feel pain. You’ll slowly regain feeling in your mouth as you wake up from surgery. Some pain and swelling is normal. The first day of recovery will also include some blood in your mouth. You can start using an ice pack on your face as soon as you’d like.

You can eat very soft foods after surgery but avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking. You should also avoid using a straw which creates negative pressure in your mouth that leads to the dry socket and delayed wound recovery.

Wisdom Tooth Removal in Pregnancy

Occasionally, problems with the wisdom teeth can become so acute that the treatment cannot be postponed until after the pregnancy. Fortunately, wisdom teeth extractions can be performed during pregnancy, although the preferred time period is during the second trimester.

With the proper usage of protective aprons, only necessary radiographs are taken to evaluate the condition of the abscessed teeth. To control infection and to manage comfort, there are anesthetics, pain relievers, and antibiotics that are deemed safe for use during pregnancy and your dual degree (physician & dentist) oral and maxillofacial surgeon will appropriately prescribe these for you.

Pregnancy is a time when women are striving for peak health in order to bring a vibrant baby into the world. When the wisdom teeth threaten to interfere with that process, it is not necessary to suffer or worry. The teeth can be removed as safely as possible before, during, or after the pregnancy, according to the needs of the expectant mother and the unborn child

What is the Cost of Wisdom Tooth Removal Surgery?

The cost of wisdom tooth surgery depends on its position and clinic. The fully erupted wisdom tooth removal costs $70-$200 per tooth which is less than the impacted and partially erupted wisdom tooth removal. Fully erupted wisdom tooth removal is a simple tooth extraction but partially erupted and impacted tooth removal needs minor surgical process. This process may cost $200-$600 per tooth. Most dental insurance plans cover wisdom tooth removal. The impacted tooth associated with Dentigerous cyst removal cost increases than these. But the cost would be determined by the condition of the wisdom teeth.

The Day of Your Wisdom Tooth Surgery

Wisdom teeth extraction is an outpatient surgery, which means you arrive and leave the surgery center on the same day. If you get local anesthesia or sedation during surgery, you’ll probably wake up in the dental chair. However, if you’re given general anesthesia, it takes longer for you to wake up, so you’ll be taken to a recovery room. You might not remember how you got from the dental chair to the recovery room. Ask your dentist which type of sedation to expect.

You’ll slowly regain feeling in your mouth as you wake up from surgery. Some pain and swelling is normal. The first day of recovery will also include some blood in your mouth. You can start using an ice pack on your face as soon as you’d like. You’ll also be given instructions on when and how to take medications, either prescription painkillers or something over-the-counter.

You’ll be sent home once you wake up and feel ready. It’s a really good idea to be accompanied by someone else drive you home. Your dentist might insist on it, especially if you undergo general anesthesia as you won’t be able to drive for an extended period of time.

You can eat very soft foods after surgery but avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking. You should also avoid using a straw. This can lead to complications.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Most people fully recover from wisdom teeth surgery in three to four days. If your teeth were impacted or came in at an awkward angle, it could take a full week to recover.  Wisdom teeth removal is very common, and recovery can take up to a week, depending on your specific case. Recovery may take longer if your wisdom teeth are impacted. This means that they haven’t emerged from below the gums yet and aren’t visible.

The wound left behind after surgery won’t be completely healed for months, so you can still develop an infection weeks after surgery. Take care of yourself and pay attention to any signs of trouble. You can resume normal, daily activities the day after surgery, but avoid any activity that could dislodge stitches or the blood clot over your wound. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Strenuous exercise
  • Smoking
  • Spitting
  • Drinking from a straw

Some swelling, pain, and bleeding is normal after wisdom teeth removal. Call your dentist immediately if the pain or bleeding is excessive and unbearable.  Your symptoms should be greatly improved by the third day after surgery. All pain and bleeding should be gone within a week of surgery.

Home Care Post Wisdom Teeth Treatment

Follow the medication suggested by your dentist. Usually, medication will be given for 5 to 7 days.  Don’t skip this medication.  It’s very important that you do a good job of caring for your mouth when you get home to avoid infections and complications. Your dentist or oral surgeon will give you exact instructions on how to clean and protect your mouth after surgery. This might be the only time your dentist tells you not to brush, rinse, or floss for a whole day.

Common cleaning instructions include:

  • Rinsing with salt water to keep the wound clean. Don’t spit the water out when you rinse. Forceful spitting and rinsing should be avoided. Instead, tip your mouth over the sink and let the waterfall out.
  • Gently dab the wound with gauze to absorb excess blood.

You should be able to go back to daily life a day or two after surgery. You’ll want to be very careful not to dislodge your blood clot or stitches for a week. Like any scab, the blood over your wisdom tooth hole protects and heals the wound. If the blot clot is disrupted, you’ll be in increased pain and at an increased risk of infection. When this happens, it’s called a dry socket. You can get a dry socket in just one or all of the wound holes.

You should avoid during recovery:

  • Anything that would dislodge your stitches or blood clot
  • Smoking & Spitting
  • Drinking from a straw
  • Chewing on hard food items
  • Placing the tongue at the wound

How Long Does the Pain Last after Wisdom Tooth Removal?

The best way you can manage pain and reduce swelling is by using ice and taking pain medication. Ask your dentist for instructions on how often to use an ice pack on your face. Don’t put ice directly to your face, as this may lead to ice burn. Antibiotics and painkillers are advised for one week.

You feel very painful after the anesthesia effect lasts and swelling of mouth and cheeks are noticed

  •  2 to 3 days: Swelling of the mouth and cheeks should improve.
  • 7 days: A dentist can remove any stitches that remain.
  • 7 to 10 days: Jaw stiffness and soreness should go away.
  • 2 weeks: Any mild bruising on the face should heal.

You might also be instructed to take antibiotics while you recovery. This is to prevent any infections while your mouth is vulnerable to germs. Be sure to take the full course of antibiotics as instructed by your dentist.

Food to Eat and Foods to Avoid

Staying hydrated and eating well is important for recovery, though you might not have a very good appetite directly after surgery. Ask your doctor for specific instructions on what you can eat the first few days of recovery. Think of food that will be easy to eat without much chewing, and food that won’t disrupt your blood clot or stitches.

Start with very soft food at first, such as:

  • Soups
  • Apple sauce
  • Pudding
  • Cheese
  • Mashed vegetables
  • Smoothies

While eating, avoid:

  • extremely hot food that can burn the site of the surgery
  • nuts or seeds that could get stuck in the hole where your wisdom teeth used to be
  • drinking from a straw, or slurping too vigorously from a spoon, which can dislodge your blood clot or ruin stitches
  • avoid forceful spitting

What are the Complications After Wisdom Tooth Removal?

The removal of a fully erupted wisdom tooth has no complications if proper care is taken after removal. The impacted and partially erupted wisdom tooth removal may create complications in some patients. Some complications could be a sign of infection or nerve damage. Seek help if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Fever
  • Medication not effective at dulling the pain
  • Swelling that gets worse over time
  • Numbness
  • Blood or pus comes from the socket

The risks after surgery are

  • Painful dry socket or exposure of bone  when the blood clot dislodged from the socket after the surgery
  • infection in the socket from bacteria and trapped food particles
  • Damage to nearby teeth, nerves jawbone, or sinuses.

Dental Health Guide, Providing information on dental care and dental hygiene along with detailing the most common dental diseases with symptoms and treatment methods. Readers should use the dental articles as reference only and consult a dentist and visit a dental clinic for dental health problems.

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