Typically, wisdom teeth are recommended to extract between the ages of 16-18, depending on where the teeth are in development. At this stage of growth, the crowns are completely formed, and the roots are incompletely formed, making it easier to remove. Stages of development can differ greatly between patients; therefore, we have to monitor it with panoramic x-rays, which gives us a full picture of the upper and lower jaw, the position of all the teeth, and structure of the supporting bone. From the panoramic x-ray, the Dr. Can tell if it is good timing to extract.
For patients taking the wisdom teeth out after age 18, extractions may require more surgical involvement.
Healing post-surgery is variable. Individuals heal and sense pain differently. It is critical that post-operative instructions be followed to improve healing time and reduce pain. Usually, anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen are oftentimes enough to manage pain. For more severe cases a narcotic may be prescribed, which the patient would be unable to drive or operate machinery.
Dry sockets occur when the soft tissue fails to heal over the boney socket left after the extraction. Several things can cause this but number one is smoking. The heat and smoke make it hard for the soft tissue to heal over the bone. When the vital bone is exposed in the oral cavity it becomes infected leading to a “dry socket”. Treatment for dry-socket is packing dry-socket paste on a sterile strip of gauze into the extraction site. This packing needs to be done each day for 3-5 days. Relief is usually felt on day one.
The best way to treat dry-sockets is to avoid it by following all post-operative instructions.