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The 5 Stages of Grief – Coping With Wisdom Teeth Extractions

Mission Viejo, CA – At some point in your life, you may have to go through this. It’s difficult, but with the support of friends and family, you can get through it… Wisdom teeth extractions.

Having wisdom teeth removed is something that a lot of people have to go through. Dealing with the extractions of your back teeth can be tough, but all of the thoughts and emotions that you are experiencing are perfectly normal. In fact, they can be summed up into the Five Stages of Grief:

1. Denial

We tell ourselves, “No. I don’t need it. It’s simply unnecessary.” But the reality is that having your wisdom teeth – or third molars – removed may be necessary for healthy jaw development.

Wisdom teeth tend to grow in between the ages of 17 and 25. Why evolution chose to leave behind these archaic and annoying teeth is beyond us, but luckily, we do have the technology to get rid of the pesky teeth. If you’ve been getting routine dental checkups, your dentist will let you know when it’s time to get your wisdom teeth removed.

You can deny it all you want, but here are common signs that you need to get those wisdom teeth extracted:

Pain: If your back teeth hurt, you might have an impacted wisdom tooth (more on this later). Feeling pain when you’re eating, talking, or even smiling could mean it’s time to visit the doctor.

Cavities: It’s easier for your wisdom teeth to get cavities because they’re so far back and hard to reach. Especially if only part of your tooth is exposed, it’s hard to clean out any built-up plaque.

Gum disease: Trying to floss a tooth that you can’t see or feel is nearly impossible. Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean. Unfortunately, that puts you at a higher risk of tooth decay, infection, and gum disease. If you notice any swollen or bleeding gums, consult your dentist to see if the cause is your wisdom teeth.  

Sinus problems: Yeah, that’s right. Wisdom teeth can literally give you headaches. As the teeth develop, their roots can push up against your sinus cavity, resulting in an entire host of new problems like congestion, sinus pain, and headaches.

2. Anger

We get mad at our dentist. We wonder if he or she gets a huge cut of the deal if we go to the surgeon that they recommend for us. We lash out at our friends and family because we can’t chew on our back teeth without cringing.

But it’s okay if you are angry, and it’s definitely okay if you want a second opinion. It is an important decision that you must come to yourself.Don’t direct that negative energy at your dentist. They’re just trying to give you free toothbrushes. Get upset with the real culprits: your wisdom teeth.

When wisdom teeth grow in at the wrong angle, they are impacted and they can’t develop properly. An impacted wisdom tooth could be pushing into your molar, potentially damaging it. Wisdom teeth can also overcrowd the mouth, shifting your teeth after you get braces.

3. Bargaining

We hear it all the time. “What if I just make sure to brush my back teeth every day for the rest of my life? I can do it, I’ll start right now.” Even worse? “I can live with them.”

These are temporary solutions to a long-term problem. But soon you will be at the next step when you realize that it is inevitable.

4. Depression

It’s natural to feel helpless when you are making such a big decision. Your team of dentists is here to support you in this decision. Feeling nervous, anxious, scared, sad, and insecure about your ingrown wisdom teeth is completely normal.

Instead of moping around your house eating ice cream (save that for breakups), ask your dentist to explain how the procedure will go, how many teeth will be extracted, and how long it will take. Knowing what to expect can help ease any fear and anxiety you have. Typically, there are the steps in a wisdom tooth removal:

  1. Anesthetic: The dentist will apply anesthetic gel to your gums and give you an injection of anesthetic fluid. This should make the operation virtually painless.
  2. Incision: If your tooth is still under the gums, the dentist will make an incision to reach it. Sometimes, a piece of the bone is also removed with the wisdom tooth.
  3. Tooth removal: Some wisdom teeth are more stubborn than others. Your dentist may have to cut the tooth into smaller teeth and remove them bit by bit to finish the job. It just depends on the size, angle, and persistence of the tooth.
  4. Stitches: After your dentist has removed the tooth, your gums will be sewed back up with dissolving stitches.
  5. Post-surgery care: Healing can take from 24 hours to a few weeks. Your mouth may be swollen, sore, and even a little bloody. Your dentist will prescribe pain medication for you. Expect to replace the gauze every few hours and make sure to eat soft foods until your mouth fully heals.

5. Acceptance

The final stage – acceptance. With the extensive research that you conducted and all of the knowledge you acquired, you know it to be true.

When you make the decision to have your wisdom teeth removed, you are on your way to a healthier and happier future.

By understanding the Five Stages of Grief when coping with wisdom teeth extractions, you can be better equipped to make the decision to have them removed. It’s no easy decision to give up your back teeth, but at the end of the day, it’s what is best to maintain your beautiful and healthy smile.

For more information about wisdom teeth extractions, contact your team of dentists in Mission Viejo. At New Generation Dentistry, we are committed to helping you regain confidence in your smile.

It’s time to live a pain-free life. Book an appointment today.

Updated for 2018.

 

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