DO WISDOM TEETH AFFECT ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?
Dr. April Lee at Burlingame Smile Studio provides orthodontic treatment for patients in the San Francisco Bay Area. In this post we provide some answers to questions that many of our patients ask about orthodontic treatment and wisdom teeth.
WHEN DO WISDOM TEETH COME IN?
Wisdom teeth typically come in around the late teens or early 20’s. In many cases, patients have already undergone orthodontic treatment by this time. Our office in Burlingame receives many questions about wisdom teeth and how they may affect your teeth if you’ve had orthodontic treatment.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY STRAIGHT SMILE?
Many factors beyond wisdom teeth also can cause teeth to shift position over time, including the natural aging process and repetitive movement such as tooth grinding. Because orthodontists know that time and lifestyle habits can affect the outcome of any orthodontic treatment, most recommend long term or lifetime use of orthodontic retainers after completing orthodontic treatment with braces or clear aligners. You may choose from a variety of retainers, but your orthodontist will recommend the most suitable type of retainer for your condition.
HOW CAN I ALLEVIATE THE PAIN OF IMPACTED WISDOM TEETH?
Over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen may be effective at treating the pain of an impacted wisdom tooth. You may also try a teething gel such as Bonjela, applied directly to the inflamed area to manage pain as needed. Applying heat or an ice pack may also alleviate pain and swelling. Warm salt-water rinses may also be very helpful. Be sure to swish the warm salt water around your mouth for a minute or so. If the pain becomes increasingly severe or if you notice excessive inflammation in your face and jaw, schedule an emergency dental appointment, as this may be a sign that you are developing an infection.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE MY WISDOM TEETH CHECKED?
The danger of impacted wisdom teeth is that you may develop a serious infection. If you are experiencing soreness around the tooth, pain and inflammation in your jaw and gum, pain or discomfort in the adjacent ear or along your face may all be indications of a brewing infection, which if not properly treated, may spread to surrounding areas and cause damage to healthy teeth and nerves. In extremely severe, untreated cases infection may spread so far as to cause facial swelling and compromise the patient’s ability to breathe and swallow.
Because of their elusive location at the rear of the mouth, wisdom teeth are often affected by accumulation of food particles, plaque, and bacteria that can cause an infection to sprout around the tooth, leading to tooth decay and the possibility of bone disease.
WILL I REQUIRE ANESTHESIA TO REMOVE WISDOM TEETH?
Local or general anesthesia may be used during the extraction procedure, depending on the number of teeth to be removed, the level of complexity involved in the procedure, and the patient’s personal preference and tolerance for pain. We want you to be totally comfortable, and will explain all your options to make sure you experience no discomfort during the procedure. If the removal is performed using local anesthesia, we will use an injection to numb the entire area that surrounds the tooth in question, much like when you are getting a cavity filled. In cases where the procedure must be performed by a specialized oral and maxillofacial surgeon in a hospital facility, general anesthesia will be used.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER REMOVAL OF WISDOM TEETH?
Once your wisdom teeth have been removed, you may typically experience some degree of swelling and discomfort that may last for several days. It is likely that you may have received stitches to help seal the wound shut and aid with the healing process. Our team will provide you with detailed post-operative instructions that explain how to care for your mouth following your procedure. It is imperative that you follow these recommendations faithfully to ensure an optimal recovery.
You may find that it becomes uncomfortable to wear your regular orthodontic retainer for the first few days after you have your wisdom teeth removed, and you may have to suspend wearing it for a few days. But it is essential to protect your teeth from shifting at this crucial time, so you must gradually resume wearing your retainer again as soon as you feel comfortable enough to do so.
While there are no hard and fast dietary restrictions to observe after wisdom teeth removal, you’ll probably want to avoid hard crunchy foods such as chips, nuts, and seeds, until your mouth heals. Spicy and highly seasoned foods may also cause sensitivity. We recommend that you also avoid smoking as well as consumption of alcohol beverages for at least 24-48 hours following your procedure.
If you’re experiencing painful wisdom teeth and want to protect the results of your orthodontic treatment, contact Dr. April Lee at Burlingame Smile Studio in Burlingame, CA for a consultation to save and protect your straight smile!