Wisdom Teeth Extraction in Lititz and Lancaster
As a restorative dentist, Dr. Moriarty usually strives to help patients keep their natural teeth for as long as possible—preferably a lifetime. Except for wisdom teeth. Most people are better off having those extracted, because they are not useful and in fact can often be a source of trouble.
At one time, wisdom teeth—also called third molars—were used by early humans to chew and tear the foods that comprised their coarse and rough diet including things such as roots, berries, leaves, meats and nuts. Now, however, we enjoy a diet that is much softer, and we use utensils such as forks, spoons and knives that have made our wisdom teeth obsolete. Moreover, our jaws are significantly smaller than our prehistoric ancestors’ jaws, so ours rarely have enough room for wisdom teeth. Consequently, when wisdom teeth form they are often impacted, meaning they remain trapped below the gum line. Here they can cause crowding or displacement of adjacent teeth, a particular problem if you’ve had orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth. And even if a wisdom tooth does partially erupt, it is usually difficult to clean properly, so the possibility of bacterial infection is always possible.
To avoid these and other problems, Dr. Moriarty usually recommends that his Lititz and Lancaster patients have wisdom teeth extractions performed between the ages of 15 to 18 ideally. At this age, the roots of wisdom teeth are only about two-thirds formed, making this oral surgery and the recovery process easier and less complicated than it would be at an older age.
Sedation Dentistry for Wisdom Tooth Extractions
Dr. Moriarty’s patients who come in for wisdom tooth extractions receive sedation dentistry to make the procedure more tolerable and less anxiety inducing. For the majority of cases, we use IV sedation, which delivers a sedating medication through an intravenous line that is inserted either in the back of your hand in the crook of your arm. Once the sedative is in your system and you’re peacefully unaware, Dr. Moriarty begins the extraction procedure by giving you a local anesthetic that numbs the areas where your wisdom teeth will be removed.
To extract your wisdom teeth, the gum tissue covering the teeth is opened to expose the tooth. Any bone covering the tooth is removed and then the tooth is extracted. Stitches may be required, and a gauze pad will be placed over the wound to stop bleeding.
After wisdom teeth extraction, proper care is critical for your comfort and good healing. Don’t remove the gauze pads placed over the surgical area for the first hour. If bleeding continues, you can change out the gauze every 30 to 45 minutes until it stops. Take it easy the first day; rest in bed or on the couch. Avoid any activity that requires bending or lifting, which can increase bleeding and swelling.
Some swelling after you’ve had your wisdom teeth extracted is normal and will peak two or three days after surgery. Apply a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a towel to the cheek area outside the surgical site. Remember: 20 minutes of cold and then 20 minutes without for the first 24 hours after surgery. Dr. Moriarty will give you a prescription for pain medication to help manage discomfort.