Wisdom teeth are the third molars and usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25. They are commonly extracted when they affect other teeth—Most people have four wisdom teeth, but it is possible to have more or fewer.

They are generally thought to be called wisdom teeth because they appear so late—much later than the other teeth, at an age where people are arguably wiser than as a child, when the other teeth erupt.

A wisdom tooth is extracted to correct an actual problem or to prevent problems that may come up in the future. Wisdom teeth are extracted for two general reasons: either the wisdom teeth have already become impacted, or the wisdom teeth could potentially become problematic if not extracted. Potential problems caused by the presence of properly grown-in wisdom teeth include infections caused by food particles easily trapped in the jaw area behind the wisdom teeth where regular brushing and flossing is difficult and ineffective. Such infections may be frequent, and cause considerable pain and medical danger. Also, it is a wise choice to have them removed if undergoing extensive orthodontic work because once the teeth have come in they could inflict some damage on expensive straightening.

The decision to have your wisdom teeth extracted should be one from an informed position between you and your dentist. Potential complications from surgical extractions include:

· Numbness- This can take place if the nerve is contacted or damaged during the extraction. Permanent numbness of the lip is extremely rare; most of the numb cases return to normal after a couple of months of nerve healing.

· Dry Socket- this is not an infection, but when the blood clot at the extraction site is dislodged or fails to form. This intense pain is usually felt 3-6 days after the procedure. Treatment is done by placing a medicine soaked gauze in the site to reduce the pain until a new clot slowly forms.

· Swelling-This usually maximizes at day 3. Swelling is reduced by applying ice on the side of the face directly after the procedure and for the rest of the day of surgery. Rotate the ice 30 minutes on each side of the face. At day 2-6 use salt water ½ tsp. salt to a glass of warm water 4 times per day. Allow the solution to penetrate into the surgical area to rinse food debris away.

Bleeding-After the teeth are extracted gauze pads should be placed at the extraction sites, and then should be bitten down on with firm and even pressure for the first day. Bleeding and oozing can last a couple of days. If bleeding continues to be a problem, a wet tea bag can be used to enhance clotting.

We at The Gentle Dentist in Shelby Township, Michigan have found that during stressful times when the immune system is functioning at a low level is when wisdom teeth can become the most noticeable. It is recommended that the wisdom teeth be examined for removal when the patient can take off a couple of days to recover from the surgery. If you have any questions please call us at 586-247-3500 or visit our website at www.TheGentleDentist.com .