The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for wisdom teeth removal? While we generally don’t associate the holidays with oral surgery, if you could choose a good time to have your wisdom teeth removed, the holiday season would be among the best.
How do you know if you need your wisdom teeth removed?
While not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, the vast majority of us do because we simply don’t have space by the time these molars arrive. Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt in the late teen years to early 20s after the rest of our teeth have come in. Although, some people will develop these teeth much earlier! As a result, they become impacted (unable to erupt normally) in bone or gum tissue, causing crowding among your current teeth, which can lead to severe jaw pain, infection, and damage to adjacent teeth. For specific information on the types of impactions, visit our page dedicated to wisdom teeth.
Each patient is unique, and there is never a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to oral surgery. However, the timing for wisdom teeth removal is usually based on three factors – patient age, root formation, and tooth position.
As far as a patient’s age goes, the younger, the better, as younger patients typically do better with surgical procedures and have fewer overall complications. The older the patient, the longer their recovery period will be from a wisdom tooth extraction, which is why most patients opt to get their wisdom teeth removed as early as possible.
Age is also related to root formation. In young adults, the root system of wisdom teeth is softer and not fully developed. As a result, the extraction process is typically much easier and less complex during this time. As time progresses, wisdom teeth develop hard, dense root systems that are integrated more solidly with the jaw bone, making extractions in later adulthood much more difficult.
Position of the teeth is another determining factor when deciding on wisdom teeth removal. Wisdom teeth are frequently misaligned and may position themselves horizontally, be angled toward or away from the second molars, or be angled inward or outward. This increases risk, as poor alignment of wisdom teeth can crowd or damage adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or nerves.
It’s important to note that even if you are not currently experiencing discomfort, you may still require extraction, as some patients show no symptoms at all. To determine the position of the wisdom teeth and see if there are present or potential problems, patients should undergo an oral exam and x-rays of the mouth. For a complete evaluation, we encourage you to contact one of our four practice locations (Denton, Plano, Decatur, Gainesville ).
Why the holiday season?
For non-emergency cases where patients have the ability to schedule wisdom teeth extraction in advance, the winter holidays are a convenient time to have it done. The thought of winter break probably doesn’t bring images of a dental chair to mind, but you might think differently after reviewing the following reasons:
- Recovery Time – Healing from oral surgery takes time. Typically, we recommend taking a few days off from work or school to rest after your wisdom teeth are removed. Given that we tend to have lighter schedules over the holidays, it’s generally one of the best times to be out of the office (and there’s no school to miss).
- Pain Management – Many patients are able to control pain after extraction with over-the-counter medications. However, some require prescription pain medications that can cause nausea and / or interfere with their ability to focus and stay awake. With a more casual holiday schedule, patients are better able to rest comfortably, with or without prescription medications, as there isn’t the usual rush to get back on schedule.
- Insurance Benefits – At the end of the year, many dental benefits expire on families’ insurance plans. If you or your family has a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), you’ve likely allotted a certain amount of money for dental procedures. These funds usually expire and restart at the beginning of the new year. Scheduling your wisdom teeth extraction during the winter holidays is the perfect way to take advantage of these benefits before they expire.
We understand that no one wants to spend their holidays undergoing and recovering from oral surgery, but if it has to be done the end of the year is a good time to do it. We recommend taking a few days off from work or school to rest after your wisdom teeth are removed and the holidays provide some built-in down-time. We suggest getting this taken care of, so you can put wisdom teeth and 2020 behind you for good. Contact any of our four locations (Denton, Plano, Decatur, Gainesville ) to schedule a consultation today, but hurry because we’ll be singing Auld Lang Syne before you know it!
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