Wisdom Teeth

Introduction

Impacted Wisdom Tooth Wisdom teeth are also known as the third molars. They are the last molar teeth to develop which usually grow at the very back of the upper and lower jaw bones, one at each back ‘corner’ of the mouth.

They usually appear when people are aged between 18 and 25 years old; Often, they erupt into the mouth uneventfully and everything is fine. Frequently however, wisdom teeth erupt only partly or they don’t erupt at all. They are then called ‘impacted’ and they are usually a cause of many problems that makes it necessary for them to be removed.

Common Reasons for removing Wisdom Teeth:

When a wisdom tooth is impacted and tries to erupt into the mouth, the flap of gum on top of it can become infected and swollen. This can be very very sore! You might even feel pain in nearby teeth, or in the ear on that side of your face. This condition can lead to an infection known as ‘pericoronitis’. If left untreated, severe infections may sometimes require a hospital stay and surgery.

Reasons for removal:

  • Infection around a partially erupted wisdom tooth
  • Unrestorable decay or badly broken down wisdom tooth
  • Decay of the neighbouring tooth caused by the wisdom tooth
  • Space considerations (orthodontics).

How are they removed?

Upper Wisdom Teeth:

Quite often, these can be very straightforward and can take just a few minutes to remove.

Lower Wisdom Teeth:

Many lower wisdom teeth can’t be removed like other teeth. They are stuck (impacted) beneath the gum, either partially or completely, and can be lying at a different angle to the neighbouring tooth.  A minor surgical procedure is usually required to remove these.

Quite often, wisdom teeth can be removed using Local Anaesthetic with or without Intravenous Sedaion. In some cases, a general anaesthetic may be used, especially if more than one or all of the wisdom teeth will be removed at the same time. A general anesthetic prevents pain in the whole body and will cause you to sleep through the procedure.

Are you having problems from your Wisdom Teeth?

Troublesome wisdom teeth can present in the following ways:

  • Pain or tenderness in your gums or jawbone
  • Bad breath
  • Redness or swelling in your gums
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Headaches or jaw ache.

Should I have my Wisdom Teeth removed?

Impacted wisdom teeth can become cavitated. Additonally, an impacted wisdom tooth can push on the neighboring molar which can lead to tooth movement, decay and gum disease. Rarely, impacted teeth can cause cysts or other growths in the jaw.

If your impacted wisdom teeth aren’t causing you problems, it’s sometime best to hold onto them and avoid the risks of surgery. Sometimes, as your wisdom teeth come through, your gums may feel sore or tender for a while. This is quite normal, and isn’t usually a reason for having them removed.

If you do need to have one or two of your wisdom teeth removed, it doesn’t mean that you need to have them all taken out. To conclude, we recommend that you discuss your particular case with your dentist who will be happy to advise you on the best course of action for your wisdom teeth.

If you are having surgery to remove your Wisdom Teeth:

1. Stock up on supplies the day before you are due to have the teeth removed. Purchase soft foods like soup, yoghurt, soft fruits and cream cheese. You won’t be able to (or feel like) eating very hard foods or foods that are too hot / cold for at least a day or two after the surgery.

2. When lying down or sleeping, elevate your head with a couple of pillows; this will help to reduce swelling.

3. Always have some water, painkillers and antibiotics nearby. Plenty of distractions like books, movies and games are also helpful to take your mind off things while you are recovering from surgery.

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