You may have heard that wisdom tooth removal can cause nerve damage or other complications, but any associated risk is negligible.
While damage to the nerve and other medical complications can occur in rare cases, most do not result in any serious issues. This routine dental procedure does have some risks, however.
Damage to the Sensory Nerve
The mandibular or sensory nerve, located within the lower jawbone, supplies feeling to the tongue, lower lip and chin.
This nerve is what allows us to sense different textures and temperatures and feel pain. In many people, this nerve lies quite close to the roots of the lower wisdom teeth.
Bruising or damage can occur during wisdom tooth extraction, leading to a temporary tingling or numbing sensation. This injury may be caused by the instruments and tools used during surgery or by the tooth itself pressing against the nerve.
Nerve damage is a risk during any tooth extraction or procedure involving the lower jaw, but it is important to note that the risk is quite small and highly unlikely for most patients.
Other Risks of Wisdom Tooth Removal
Other serious complications from tooth extraction are equally rare.
In extractions in which an incision must be made in the gum tissue, or in which bone must be removed, the complication known as dry socket can occur. Dry socket is a sometimes painful condition in which the bone and nerve are exposed to air if a blood clot becomes dislodged.
Occasionally, patients may develop an infection as a result of bacteria or food particles becoming trapped in the socket after surgery. And, though it is quite uncommon, some patients may suffer damage to the jawbone, sinuses or other teeth near the extraction site.
It is far more likely for patients to experience minor complications after tooth extraction. Pain and swelling in the gums is possible, and bleeding can be excessive or prolonged. And in some cases, patients have gums that are slow to heal.
Virtually all of these potential risks and complications can be eradicated, however, by following the doctor’s recommendations and aftercare instructions diligently.
Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Wisdom Tooth Removal
Even if your wisdom teeth are not causing you any discomfort or dental issues, it may be better to have them removed.
If they are impacted or growing at an angle to your other teeth, the risk of future complications far outweighs the risk associated with extraction or surgical removal.
If your dentist or oral surgeon advises that you have your wisdom teeth extracted, it is important to have the surgery as early as possible. Most medical professionals suggest extraction between the ages of 12 and 18 if possible, or optimally before the age of 25.
By age 25, the fourth molar roots are fully formed. In older patients, the risk of nerve damage and other complications becomes greater simply because the roots are longer.
Make an Appointment
If your dentist or orthodontist has advised you to have extractions, contact Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah today. We serve patients throughout northern Utah, including Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation. Our experienced oral surgeons will explain all of the benefits and risks associated with wisdom tooth removal.