Grinberg News

Wisdom Teeth: The serious dangers if left untreated

x-ray of wisdom teeth
Four wisdom teeth vertically impacted. Photo: Shutterstock

Wisdom teeth removal is big business for the dental industry – almost 3 billion dollars annually, with 10 million procedures performed each year in the US.

Wisdom teeth usually come in between the ages of 17 and 25. Most people have them removed because they do not fully erupt into the mouth because of blockage from other teeth (impaction).

Impacted wisdom teeth do not always show symptoms, meaning you could have impacted teeth and not even realize it.

However, if symptoms do arise, it is usually the result of the gum on top of the tooth becoming infected or swollen.

Symptoms of wisdom teeth coming in can come without warning and cause a surprising amount of pain.

You might experience headaches and migraines, pain in the back of your mouth, jaw pain, neck pain, and ear pain.

On occasions, the pain can extend into the sinus.

Because the upper wisdom teeth are situated close to your sinuses, they can trigger sore throats, runny noses, or pressure headaches.

When a wisdom tooth is trapped in the gums, this may also lead to infection due to bacterial overgrowth and eventually bad breath.

Wisdom teeth surgery

The benefits of removing wisdom teeth can benefit you in a number of ways, especially if you are in pain.

impacted wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth pain. Photo: Shutterstock

The reason dentists so often recommend removing them is that they rarely come in straight.

When wisdom teeth lean toward adjacent molars they trap food particles, plaque, and debris resulting in a wisdom tooth infection.

If left untreated, the bacteria from the infection can spread via the bloodstream to other parts of the body causing a host of serious problems.

Research suggests some of these health problems include diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease.

Wisdom teeth removal aftercare

It can take up to two weeks for the wisdom teeth to heal after the extraction.

Dry socket is the most common complication following tooth extractions. The socket is the hole in the mouth left from the extraction of the tooth.

After a tooth is pulled, a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the bone and nerves underneath.

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Sometimes that clot can become dislodged or dissolve a couple of days after the extraction. Once the clot is gone, the nerve is exposed to air, food, fluid and anything else that enters the mouth, which can be extremely painful.

Over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen can help relieve the pain.

You should also expect swelling after the extraction, especially red or swollen cheeks, which will gradually improve after a few days.

During this time it’s a good idea to sleep with your head elevated. Laying on your back with pillows built up under your head will help decrease swelling.

A sore throat, ear pain, jaw pain are other common symptoms. The stiffness of the jaw can sometimes last about 2 weeks.

You might not feel like eating, but it’s important to know the foods that you need for a speedy recovery.

The best foods to eat after wisdom teeth removal are soft foods such as instant oatmeal, scrambled egg, pancakes, smoothies, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

After 4-5 days you can try incorporating more solid foods.

What to avoid after wisdom teeth removal

Smoking while having big gaping holes in your gums is a big no-no.

Even if one feels the urge to smoke, it is important to wait at least 72 hours.

Smoking a cigarette or weed can cause infection, or increase the risk of a dry socket which will delay your healing process.

dry socket from wisdom teeth removal
Painful dry socket in a person who smokes.

Vaping after wisdom teeth removal is just as bad as smoking so don’t vape!

It is recommended to wait at least 24 hours before resuming alcohol consumption. Hot liquids such as coffee should also be avoided for 24 hours. Hot liquids can dislodge the clot, causing a dry socket to develop.

It’s also important to not brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, or use a mouthwash during the first 24 hours.

Sex after wisdom teeth removal is ok but no blowjobs!!