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Wisdom Teeth

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the last four teeth to come through, normally during the late teen years and early twenties. As the jaw is still growing during the late teen years, it is often too small to accommodate the new teeth adequately. Due to the inability to fit comfortably in the jaw, the development of wisdom teeth can often be painful and lead to more serious issues.

What does ‘impacted’ mean when it comes to wisdom teeth?

An impacted tooth occurs when there isn’t sufficient room for the tooth to come through. The impacted tooth comes through sideways or on an angle, causing it to press against the tooth next to it, often meaning the impacted tooth does not fully push through.

Why do we need to extract wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth can cause severe pain and serious mouth and jaw issues if not taken care of. The most common reasons for having your wisdom teeth removed include:
- Tooth decay
- Gum infection
- Pressure pain
- Orthodontic reasons
- Prosthetic reasons
- Cyst formation

Tooth decay occurs when saliva, food and bacteria accumulate around an impacted tooth, over time causing it to deteriorate. This build-up of debris can often lead to a painful infection.

Bacteria and food particles can accumulate beneath the gum of a partially-erupted tooth, resulting in an infection. This can cause bad breath, swelling and pain, and lead to difficulty chewing or opening the mouth fully.

Wisdom teeth can press against other teeth in the mouth as they try to erupt, which can cause severe pain and lead to erosion of the enamel on other teeth.

Wisdom teeth can compromise the results of previous orthodontic work by moving teeth out of place.

If a wisdom tooth grows underneath a denture it can lead to irritation, so it is advised to have the wisdom teeth removed prior to getting dentures. If wisdom teeth are removed, you may require new dentures, as the shape of your gums and mouth will have changed.

A cyst that forms in the tissue around an impacted wisdom tooth can lead to jaw enlargement, bone destruction, and movement or decay of nearby teeth. The tooth and cyst will have to be removed to avoid any further damage or bone loss. If a cyst is left to grow, it can lead to fractures in the jaw.

There isn’t really a ‘best time’ to have your wisdom teeth removed, as everyone’s will come through differently and at different times. Some people may not experience any trouble at all with their wisdom teeth, in which case there is no need to remove them.

The best way to determine if your wisdom teeth need to be removed is to visit your dentist for a professional evaluation. The dentist will review the condition of your wisdom teeth and the general health of your mouth, take x-rays and review your dental history. If an issue is detected with your wisdom teeth, surgery may be recommended. Early removal is the best option to avoid future issues.

Depending on your individual circumstances you may be referred to a specialist.

If you have received a local anaesthesia, you will be given some time to recover in the dental chair. If you received general anaesthesia or sedation, you will be taken to a recovery room to wake up slowly. Your dentist will advise you prior to your procedure if a friend or family member is needed to drive you home. Medicine may be prescribed to manage pain.

Your dentist will advise you of any aftercare.

Having your wisdom teeth extracted should not hurt, since your dentist will use either a local or general anaesthesia or sedation to numb your mouth, or suppress consciousness during surgery. During the healing process, some discomfort or pain may be felt for two to three days afterward, with some swelling.

Some of the possible risks and complications involved in wisdom teeth extractions include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive bleeding
- Fever
- Severe pain not relieved by prescribed pain medications
- Increased swelling after two or three days
- A bad taste not removed with a saltwater rinse
- Pus in the extraction site
- Continual numbness or loss of feeling
- Blood or pus in nasal discharge

It is important to contact your dentist immediately if you experience any of these symptoms, as these symptoms may be a sign of nerve damage, infection or other complications.

As there is not normally sufficient room for wisdom teeth in your jaw, your teeth should not spread very much, if at all.

How long you take to recover depends on if there are any complications. Healing normally takes between three and seven days. Your dentist will be able to advise you how long your recovery should take.

You should discuss how many wisdom teeth you need to have extracted with your dentist. You can choose to have them removed one at a time or all at once. Ultimately the decision is up to you and what you feel comfortable with.

Extraction cost varies depending on difficulty, however our dentist will always give you a precise quote during the consultation appointment. We also offer an interest-free payment option.

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