Wisdom Teeth Extractions

What Are Widsom Teeth?

Otherwise known as Third molars, these teeth usually aren’t visible until humans are in their late teens or early 20’s. They are typically the last teeth to push through the gums.

While some people are born without wisdom teeth, there is usually 4 teeth present at the back of the jaw. Everyone’s mouth is different and often there can be a lack of space for the teeth to push through into the gums. This is what we call ‘impacted’ wisdom teeth.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

If your wisdom teeth push through with ample room in the jaw, you should have few problems as you age. However, if they are impacted, they can cause quite severe problems and will need to be assessed by your dentist.

When do you need to remove your Wisdom Teeth?

Not all wisdom teeth will need to be removed. Some impacted teeth will remain in the gum and cause no issues, however other teeth can cause problems and this is when your dentist will recommend removal.

If your dentist recommends removal, they will usually recommend the procedure to commence as soon as possible. In complex situations, a general dentist might refer you to an oral surgeon or maxillofacial surgeon. Everyone’s jaw and teeth are different and there are many veins, arteries or infections which can complicate the removal process. In these situations, you may need to be placed under general anaesthetic for the teeth to be removed safely. These maxiollofacial surgeons are specifically trained to perform surgery of the mouth jaws, gums and teeth.

If your situation is lower risk, your dentist may remove your wisdom teeth with local anaesthetic without the need for major surgery.

X-rays and Diagnosis

Generally your dentist will first refer you to a trusted x-ray facility in order to gain full mouth x-rays which will help give visibility to your current condition. Even if you have had these done before, they may ask you to have new x-rays to be taken as over time the position of teeth within the jaw can change as you age.

Your dentist may also refer you to have 3D x-rays taken with newer x-ray machines.

The problems impacted Wisdom teeth can cause

Infection

If the position of your wisdom teeth are causing infection, further treatment or surgery may have to be delayed until this is treated. Furthermore, even if the tooth is currently causing problems, this may subside as the tooth pushes further through the gum. If infection is present you may be told to rinse your mouth with warm saline water (salty water) in order to help disinfect the mouth. If this is unsuccessful, further medicines including antibiotics might be prescribed. Infection can cause pain, bad breath, inflammation and stiff jaws.

General Pain and discomfort

Pain is a very common symptom when wisdom teeth are pushing through the gum. Often you will experience this pain in waves meaning you might experience pain for days to weeks at a time before it subsides and then reappears at a later date. It can be also the result of infection as mentioned above or from teeth pressing against each other.

Crowding

Impacted teeth can push against the next tooth which in turn can ‘crowd’ the front teeth due to pressure. For this reason, your dentist may recommend removal prior to orthodontic work being performed.

Cysts

This is when a sac of fluid forms around the tooth and can shift it’s position. Cysts can also destroy bone and cause damage to nearby teeth or gum tissue.

Ulcers

If misaligned, the teeth can cause rubbing against the cheek or small lacerations to mouth tissue which will result in an ulcer. They can be quite painful and cause discomfort.

Food Traps

Food can get trapped in recesses caused by misalignment. The food can fester in these cavities and cause decay. Food traps can also cause bad breath.

 

How Wisdom Teeth Are Removed

Again, depending on your specific case and what your dentist recommends, you may choose between two options for removal.

Local Anaesthetic

This involves your dentist numbing the areas around the wisdom tooth with needle injections into the gum. An oral tablet may also be administered in some circumstances. The tooth may need to be removed in segments or bone chipped away first. Bleeding is managed with cotton gauze until a blood clot forms. The resulting hole in the gum will heal over time as long as proper oral hygiene is adhered to post removal.

General Anaesthetic

This involves ‘putting you to sleep’ with the help of a qualified anaesthetist. Generally this option is chosen if your teeth are more difficult to remove, if you have complicating factors or if you wish not to remain awake during the removal process. There are risks to any surgery under general anaesthetic and your dentist or health professional will run through these with your prior to your decision.

Typically, a small incision is made in the gum to expose the tooth that needs to be removed. Sometimes bone needs to be removed or the tooth separated into smaller pieces before the whole tooth is extracted. The gum is then closed using dissolvable stitches which disappear in a few days time, otherwise traditional stitches will need to be removed at a later date.

Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Hurt?

Local anaesthetic will numb the area around the tooth and parts of the jaw so that pain is minimised. Some patients can experience some pain during extraction, but this is uncommon. If pain is occurring, your dentist may use further injections to numb the area. Of course, with general anaesthetic, you are unconscious so pain is only felt after surgery.

Some people will experience pain post extraction. This is managed through the prescription of painkillers. The painkillers prescribed, depends on each patient’s condition. Some patients are allergic to certain compounds, or may have addiction issues, so the drugs prescribed can vary from patient to patient.

Discuss these issues with your dentist or health professional first. For more information on wisdom teeth removal, visit the Australian Dental Association website or talk to your dentist.

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