Surgeries are generally scary. Even with the most minor of operations, some people fear needles and the process and possible complications. Some have a phobia of the darkroom, green scrubs, a group of masked people, and a hanging yellow bulb that puts their lying, sedated selves in the spotlight.
While some amount of fear is irrational but understandable, there is no doubt that a set of complications and risks accompanies every surgery. And you need to know them so that you can take any necessary measures that reduce the risk beforehand.
So, today in this blog, we talk about complications with wisdom teeth removal. Let’s take you through the process, its associated risks, and post-operational issues step-by-step.
REASONS FOR GETTING WISDOM TEETH REMOVED:
Wisdom teeth are extracted out for a variety of reasons. While some surgeries might be done due to an actual emerging or existing problem, people often get them removed proactively to prevent any oral health problems caused due to the third set of molars.
Though getting wisdom teeth removed has no proven benefits, it is very common for them to cause oral complications. And because having them does not make a difference, it is common to get them removed at an early age.
Wisdom teeth were compatible with the diet and jaw structure of our ancestors. But evolution has led modern humans to a less spacious mouth and a smaller jawline. And as wisdom teeth are the last to develop and grow, that too at the middle of teenage, when milk teeth have already fallen, there usually is not much room for them in the mouth.
This causes several problems; some of them are listed below.
IMPACTION OF WISDOM TEETH: Impaction of wisdom teeth is when the wisdom tooth is stuck below the surface of gums and does not fully erupt. This is a prevalent but grave issue because it can open doors for other oral problems such as severe pain, swollen gums, and tooth decay. Apart from that, it can also lead to cysts and tooth abscesses.
INCREASED RISK OF TOOTH DECAY AND GUM INFLAMMATION: Wisdom teeth are large flat teeth present at the very back of the mouth. Therefore, it is hard to reach them with a brush and floss. Maintaining oral hygiene with them gets very difficult. Therefore, the chances of decay increase. Besides, impacted teeth can lead to swelling of the surrounding tissue causing gum inflammation.
DAMAGE TO OTHER TEETH: As already discussed above, these extra sets of molars develop when permanent teeth have already taken up space. Due to lack of room, these teeth can push against the surrounding ones, causing overcrowding and damage.
MISALIGNMENT: Misalignment is one of the main reasons to prevent wisdom teeth are usually removed at an early age. Due to their positioning, wisdom teeth might grow impacted, sideways or at a horizontal angle, disturbing the alignment of other teeth.
SINUS PROBLEMS: Wisdom teeth complications can lead to many sinus problems such as sinus congestion, pain, and pressure.
These are a few of the many resultant issues typical of wisdom teeth problems, to prevent which a lot of people prefer extracting them out.
WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL PROCEDURE:
Before we get to possible complications, let us first see how the surgery is performed. Wisdom teeth removal is considered major surgery. The relative ease of the process depends on the positioning of teeth. If your set of molars is wholly erupted, it is very easy to pluck it out of the gums. However, if your teeth are impacted, the process gets comparatively more involved and complex. The doctor would have to cut through your gums and jaw bone to reach the tooth. Mostly, to avoid damaging a lot of bone and flesh, your tooth is not extracted out as one piece. Instead, parts of it are taken out.
Before your teeth are pulled, anesthesia is given to numb the teeth and surrounding area. Mainly the process involves local anesthesia, but sometimes general anesthesia is also employed. In some cases, sedatives like laughing gas, Valium, or an intravenous sedative are also given to the patient to avoid panic. You have to talk to your doctor and decide which kind of anesthesia works for you.
Before starting the process, the doctor thoroughly examines the area and decides how to go about it. The surgery typically takes less than 45 minutes, after which a week-long recovery process begins. The pain sets after the effect of sedatives wear off, and 6 hours post-surgery is considered the peak pain period.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS OF WISDOM TEETH EXTRACTION:
Now that we are on this blog’s main subject let’s clarify that these complications are not being listed to terrify you and stigmatize the procedure. If you have any wisdom teeth-related issues and your doctor suggests the removal, go for it. Abiding by the doctor’s instructions before, during, and after surgery can reduce the probability of occurrence of any problem.
Following are some of the many complications related to wisdom teeth extraction.
DRY SOCKET: After the tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms over the area to help your mouth heal. As a result of harsh brushing or gargling or similar reasons, if this blood clot dislodges, it gives rise to a dry socket or alveolar osteitis. It exposes the gum and the nerve to air. This results in severe, throbbing pain at the extraction site. This usually occurs 3-5 days after the surgery. If you experience this condition, you must talk to your doctor about it, or else it could lead to secondary complications.
NERVE INJURY: Wisdom teeth are closely related to the inferior alveolar nerve in the jaw. If this nerve gets damaged during the procedure, it can cause numbness of lips or jaw. This nerve injury is rare and temporary, but it could lead to permanent loss of sensation if the nerve gets severely damaged.
INFECTION: If the blood clot from the extraction site dissolves away, that is, if a dry socket occurs, the infection could result in the exposed area. The chance of this happening is less than 2%. Keeping the area clean can help with keeping you from any infection. Avoid smoking until complete healing because smoking raises the chances of dry sockets and hence infections.
VOMITING: Pain pills, sedatives, and blood can cause nausea and vomiting after surgery. To alleviate this, consume flavored juices or some morsels of salty food before taking medications.
If nausea persists, consider replacing your pills and if that does not help, consult your dentist.
PAIN AND SWELLING: Pain and swelling are pretty typical after oral surgeries. A publication in the American Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery found that all patients surveyed post wisdom tooth extraction surgery underwent pain and swelling. If the pain persists or gets unbearable, contact your doctor to prescribe you some medications and rule out the possibility of any other complication.
EXCESSIVE BLEEDING: Bleeding after tooth removal is normal. But if you experience excessive bleeding or the blood keeps coming out even after 8-12 hours post-surgery, you need to check with your doctor.
SORE THROAT: The extraction procedure involves a wide mouth opening for an extended period of time. This results in a sore throat and dry lips. Swallowing also becomes hard after the process due to dryness. Moisturizing lips with balm and drinking chamomile or garlic tea might help with the problem.
HOW TO REDUCE THE COMPLICATIONS?
Wisdom teeth extraction involves a whole set of possible complications which are grave and can lead to secondary health issues as well. Talking to your doctor and taking all the preventive measures that are possible can bring down the probability of them occurring.
A lot of discomforts can follow wisdom teeth extraction. While a lot of it is inevitable, the risks of these complications can be reduced to some extent.
MAINTAIN ORAL HYGIENE: The primary concern with wisdom teeth is hygiene. It is difficult for brush or floss to clean it properly. After the extraction, it gets easier to keep the mouth clean. Adopting oral health habits such as regular brushing and using mouthwash can help prevent infections and other complications.
REGULAR DENTAL CHECKUPS: It is essential to keep in touch with your doctor post-surgery to ensure that the operation didn’t lead to any secondary health issues.
CHOOSING A PROFESSIONAL DOCTOR: Wisdom teeth removal is major surgery, and expert skills are required to carry it out successfully. Choosing for yourself a professional dentist experienced in such operations is therefore essential.
STRICTLY FOLLOWING AFTERCARE INSTRUCTIONS: Abiding by the aftercare instructions by the doctor can hugely lower down the risk of any complications. Taking medicines on time, avoiding strenuous exercise and smoking, and sticking to the diet allowed by your doctor until you heal entirely is crucial.
With any oral surgery, complications can lead to more severe issues like cavities, swelling, infections, etc. Knowing possible risks beforehand helps take all the necessary precautions that could either prevent it or lower down the risk.