Wisdom Teeth Removal
A bit of Wisdom in all of us
Did you know that some people don’t get wisdom teeth? Others can be missing a few and some people get extra wisdom teeth!
Wisdom Teeth: A Comprehensive Guide by Dentists In Annerley
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to emerge, usually appearing in late adolescence or early adulthood. While most people develop four wisdom teeth, variations exist with some having fewer or occasionally more.
Historically, wisdom teeth were necessary for our ancestors who had a coarse diet requiring strong teeth. However, due to evolutionary changes and dietary shifts, many people now have jaws too small to accommodate these teeth, leading to various dental issues.
Why Wisdom Teeth Removal is Often Necessary
At Dentists In Annerley, we recognize several reasons for wisdom teeth removal, particularly when they pose oral health challenges:
- Limited Eruption Space: Insufficient jaw space can lead to crowding or misalignment.
- Impaction: Wisdom teeth can become partially or fully trapped in the jawbone or gums, causing pain and potential infection.
- Adjacent Teeth Damage: Emerging wisdom teeth can pressure adjacent teeth, leading to damage or misalignment.
- Infection and Cyst Formation: Cysts or infections around wisdom teeth can necessitate their removal.
- Discomfort and Pain: Significant discomfort or pain from a wisdom tooth may require extraction.
- Gum Infection (Pericoronitis): This is an infection and inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding a wisdom tooth.
- Preventive Removal: Early extraction might be advised to prevent future issues, especially if roots are not fully developed.
- Cleaning Difficulties: Wisdom teeth can be hard to clean, increasing decay and gum disease risks.
- Orthodontic Considerations: For orthodontic treatments, wisdom teeth extraction might be necessary to prevent crowding and ensure optimal results
Prior To Removal
Prior to removal of the wisdom teeth, an OPG x-ray must be taken. This is a full mouth image that allow us to see where the wisdom tooth is sitting and if it has caused any damage, if there is an infection or if it is in close proximity to the nerve and/or surrounding structures.
In some cases, the roots of the wisdom teeth are close to or curved around a nerve and will require a 3D (CBCT) scan to further investigate.
On The Day
Most wisdom teeth are most commonly done in the chair under local anesthetic but if the case is more complex there is options for sedation including nitrous sedation, IV and general anesthetic (GA). GA is performed in hospital while nitrous and IV sedation is performed at our South Brisbane dental clinic.
Throughout the procedure you will be completely numb and not feel any pain. After the procedure you will be given post-operative instructions and likely prescribed some medication to assist with healing.
Healing usually take 3-4 days on average.
Medical certificates can be provided after treatment when required.
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to develop and emerge in the mouth. They are located at the back of the mouth and usually appear in late adolescence or early adulthood.
Wisdom teeth typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. However, the timing can vary significantly among individuals, and some people may never develop wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth are often removed because they can cause problems when there is insufficient space in the mouth for them to emerge properly. They can become impacted (trapped beneath the gum line), leading to pain, infection, and potential damage to adjacent teeth. Removal is also considered if they contribute to crowding or are difficult to clean, increasing the risk of decay and gum disease.
Signs that wisdom teeth may need to be removed include pain or discomfort in the back of the mouth, swelling or tenderness of the gums near the back teeth, recurring infections in the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth, and difficulties with chewing or opening the mouth.
The procedure for removing wisdom teeth varies depending on whether the teeth are erupted or impacted. For erupted wisdom teeth, the procedure is similar to a standard tooth extraction. For impacted wisdom teeth, a more complex surgical procedure may be required, involving making incisions in the gum to access and remove the tooth. Both procedures typically involve local anesthesia, and sedation options may be available.
During the procedure, local anesthesia is used to numb the area, so the patient should not feel pain. Post-procedure discomfort is common but usually manageable with pain medication. Some swelling and bruising may also occur but typically subside within a few days.
Local anesthesia is commonly used to numb the area around the wisdom teeth. For more complex cases or for patients with dental anxiety, sedation options like nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedatives, or intravenous sedation can be used to provide relaxation and comfort.
The recovery period varies but generally takes a few days to a week. Patients can usually resume normal activities within a couple of days, but complete healing of the gums may take several weeks.
Potential complications from wisdom teeth include impaction, infection, damage to adjacent teeth, cysts or tumors, and gum disease. Impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to chronic pain and complications with orthodontic treatments designed to straighten other teeth.
Keeping wisdom teeth is an option if they are healthy, fully erupted, correctly positioned, and can be cleaned as part of daily hygiene practices. Regular dental check-ups are important to monitor the health and positioning of wisdom teeth.
Preparation for wisdom teeth surgery involves a pre-surgical consultation, where your dentist or oral surgeon will review your medical history and explain the procedure. You may be advised to fast for a certain period before the surgery if sedation or general anesthesia is planned. It’s also recommended to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure and to plan for rest and recovery time following the surgery.
During recovery from wisdom teeth surgery, it’s common to experience swelling, bruising, and discomfort, which can be managed with prescribed or over-the-counter pain relief medications. You’ll need to eat soft foods and avoid strenuous activity for a few days. Follow all post-operative instructions provided by your dentist or surgeon, including how to clean the surgical site and manage swelling.
After wisdom teeth removal, you should eat soft, easy-to-chew foods and avoid hot, spicy, or hard foods that might irritate the surgical site. Gradually reintroduce normal foods into your diet as healing progresses and it becomes comfortable to do so.
Preventing infection involves following good oral hygiene practices and adhering to the post-operative care instructions given by your dentist or surgeon. This includes gentle rinsing with warm salt water, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and not disturbing the surgical site with your tongue or fingers.
Contact your dentist or oral surgeon if you experience severe pain, excessive bleeding, persistent swelling, fever, or any signs of infection. Also, if you suspect complications like dry socket or if there’s no improvement in symptoms several days post-extraction, it’s important to seek dental advice.
Risks associated with wisdom teeth removal include dry socket, infection, nerve damage (though rare), bleeding, and reactions to anesthesia. Your dentist or oral surgeon will discuss these risks with you before the procedure.
The cost of wisdom teeth removal varies depending on factors such as the number of teeth to be removed, the complexity of the case, and the type of anesthesia used. Dental insurance often covers a portion of the cost, but it’s best to consult with your dental office for specific pricing.
Many dental insurance plans cover at least part of the cost of wisdom teeth removal, especially when it’s deemed medically necessary. Coverage details can vary, so it’s important to check your individual insurance policy or consult with your insurance provider.
There is some debate among dental professionals about whether wisdom teeth contribute to crowding of the front teeth. Some believe that wisdom teeth can exert pressure on other teeth as they emerge, potentially leading to misalignment.
Impacted wisdom teeth are relatively common. Many people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, as there is often not enough room in the jaw for these teeth to emerge properly. Impaction can lead to various complications, making monitoring and potential removal important.