They say wisdom comes with age, and, quite literally, so do wisdom teeth.
Unfortunately, most people may not be the wisest when it comes to wisdom teeth removal. Every year, some 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted in the US from 5 million patients, despite the fact that only 12 percent of them have truly impacted wisdom teeth.
If you’re on the fence between keeping your wisdom tooth and having it removed, this article will help you decide. As a bonus, we’ll show you some absurd yet proven and effective pain relief tips following wisdom tooth removal.
What are wisdom teeth?
A person’s set of wisdom teeth, one for each corner of the mouth, begin to show between the ages of 17 and 24 years. It got its name from the notion that wisdom teeth, otherwise known as the third molar, grow later in life when one is supposedly smarter.
Anthropologists explain that our ancestors grew third molars to be able to chew on hard and raw food. We have since evolved to not needing them, what with the discovery of fire and the invention of knives and various cooking implements.
Still, wisdom teeth remain in the human anatomy thousands of years on, although not all people will have their wisdom teeth break through their gums. A sample study in North Korea, for instance, showed that only an estimated 53 percent of the population have at least one wisdom tooth peeking out from their gums.
An impacted wisdom tooth may only emerge partially or it may remain fully impacted and hidden, mainly because there’s not enough space in the jaw for these teeth to come out and develop.
However, not all impacted wisdom teeth cause problems, and some hidden third molars may cause pain and oral problems, too.
Reasons to consider wisdom teeth removal
From a medical point of view, the third molar should only be removed if they are causing problems or have the potential to cause health dangers for the person in the future.
The American Dental Association suggests wisdom teeth removal may be necessary for individuals experiencing the following:
- Damage to nearby teeth
- Fluid-filled sacs or cysts
- Gum disease
- Severe tooth decay
What happens when my wisdom teeth are not removed?
Wisdom teeth that are trapped and don’t break through or are impacted often don’t cause any problems. However, they sometimes result in pain, swelling, tooth decay, inflamed gums and other complications.
Cysts – In rare cases, the wisdom tooth develops in a sac where fluids can enter, forming a cyst that impacts nearby structures. In still rarer cases, a benign or non-cancerous tumor grows.
Damage – Misaligned wisdom teeth, for instance, when they’re positioned horizontally, angled away or toward the second molars, can damage the other teeth, nerves or the jawbone.
Infection – Partially erupted or impacted wisdom teeth happen when the wisdom tooth stays covered in a soft tissue and fails to completely break out from the gum for various reasons, most likely when there is not enough space in the jaw.
A partially erupted wisdom tooth is a magnet for infection because it provides an opening for bacteria, leading to pain and swelling, among other symptoms. Cellulitis, or a bacterial infection in the cheek tongue or throat, as well as abscess or pus, can form in the surrounding tissue in your wisdom teeth as a result of infection.
Gum disease – Pericoronitis is an inflammatory gum disease that develops when the surrounding tissues of an impacted molar becomes inflamed.
Tooth decay – A trapped wisdom tooth’s hard-to-reach position makes cleaning trapped food and bacteria difficult. When bacteria are left sitting in your mouth for a long time, they make acids that create small holes in the tooth called cavities that lead to tooth damage or loss.
What’s the best age to have your wisdom teeth removed?
Most people have their wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17–25. To maintain oral health, it is ideal to regularly visit the dentist even before reaching this age range. The earlier it is detected, the faster the dentist can monitor the development of a third molar and act on problematic wisdom teeth.
As with other medical procedures, it is better to perform wisdom teeth removal in younger patients. This is because, as years pass, the third molar can be deeply rooted in the jaw, making extraction or surgery more challenging.
Besides this, older patients are at a higher risk for post-surgery complications and may also take longer to heal compared to younger patients. Some 11,000 out of 5 million annual patients develop some form of nerve damage resulting from wisdom teeth extraction surgery.
How much does a wisdom tooth removal cost?
Out of pocket costs for wisdom teeth removal vary depending on the condition of your erupted or impacted third molar, and the number of teeth that need to be removed. Some websites mention that a simple extraction in the US can cost you up to $200 per tooth. If all four wisdom teeth are removed, you can rack up bills amounting as high as $3,000.
Most dentists or oral surgeons encourage to have the four molars removed at once, and these procedures are usually cheaper than having four separate extraction sessions.
How long does wisdom teeth surgery pain last?
Pain and swelling, including jawbone discomfort, will likely last for up to three days. If you’ve undergone surgery, soreness and stiffness may accompany you for one week; bruising will follow for two weeks.
To prevent lingering pain, avoid a dry socket, which happens when a blood clot in the tooth socket is removed, exposing the bone and causing excruciating pain. A dry socket takes more than a week to heal.
7 Unusual pain relief tips for wisdom teeth removal
Low-light laser therapy
It sounds like a mouthful, but the procedure is pretty simple. It uses light therapy inside your mouth and the jaw area to ameliorate oral and jaw or trismus pain, as well as minimize swelling.
A 2015 study affirmed this method’s efficacy in managing pain and discomfort in patients who have undergone wisdom teeth removal.
This Ayurvedic practice originated thousands of years ago to enhance oral health. Lately, it has also been promoted to reduce toothache and jaw pain. Oil pulling involves swishing coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for a few minutes with the aim of reducing bacteria inside your mouth.
Coconut oil is said to be as effective as antibacterial mouthwash chlorhexidine in ridding your mouth of harmful bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans.
Clove oil contains a natural painkiller compound called “eugenol”. This compound reduces pain and swelling by numbing the nerves on the skin, tooth or gum on contact. It is potent enough to irritate the gum tissues, and that’s why it should be mixed with water for dilution.
These herbs are rich in antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Chew an onion and have its juice penetrate your gums to ease pain, minimize swelling and avoid infections.
Peppermint tea bag
They’re not only useful to bite into and for absorbing blood gushing out from wisdom teeth extraction patients. Cooling a peppermint tea bag and applying it onto the painful area offers temporary pain relief, too.
Facial ice pack
Placing an ice pack on your jaw and cheeks is definitely a life saver when you’ve just had wisdom teeth extraction surgery. To enjoy continuous and hands-free cooling, we highly recommend this facial ice pack that not only alleviates pain but also keeps your face glowing. Look your best while waiting to heal from pain!
Who doesn’t love coconut water? Besides giving you cool, summer vibes, coconut water is packed with anti-inflammatory properties that could help accelerate the healing process. It’s also loaded with electrolytes that nourish your body while you’re stuck eating soft foods.
When to call your dentist or surgeon
Don’t hesitate to seek immediate medical help for the following symptoms, as they may be signs of a serious oral condition:
- High grade fever
- Swallowing or breathing difficulties
- Severe bleeding
- Pus in or around the extraction area or in nasal discharge
- Loss of sensation
- Worsening pain and swelling that are not addressed by treatments
Avoiding infection and dry socket are keys to managing pain from wisdom teeth extraction. Keeping your mouth clean and avoiding specific activities such as using a straw or smoking can help. Complement your dentist or oral surgeon’s aftercare instructions with these unconventional yet beneficial pain relief tips to accelerate healing.
What do you think about these seven unusual pain relief tips? Did we miss anything? Share your thoughts with us here, and don’t forget to check out our cool products.