Wisdom teeth (also called 3rd Molars) do not erupt through the gums until people are in their late teenage years, twenties, or even older. Most people have four wisdom teeth, however some people can have none. If the jaw does not have enough room for the wisdom tooth to come through, the tooth will become wedged in or “impacted”.
Impacted wisdom teeth may cause problems, including infection, cysts, and resorption cavities on the adjacent teeth (see diagrams). However, some impacted wisdom teeth remain buried and cause no trouble. If your wisdom teeth become troublesome, we may recommend that they be removed, usually as soon as possible before the problems get worse.
Although removal of an impacted wisdom tooth is a very common procedure, the tooth can be close to major nerves and anatomical structures. This can lead to complications during surgical removal of the tooth, and thus and experienced surgeon should conduct the surgical extraction in the correct setting to minimise potential problems.
Management of Acute Infections
Management of acute infections varies depending on the severity, but treatment often involves mouthwashes, pain killers, anti-inflammatories and occasionally antibiotics. Once the infection has settled down the wisdom teeth extractions can take place if this is the correct management for you.
When to Remove Wisdom Teeth?
Once we have examined your mouth, jaws and X-ray films, we can discuss the diagnosis with you. Dr. Taz Singh may recommend removal of one or more wisdom teeth, or other options. The decision whether to have wisdom teeth removed is always yours.
In general, it is best to have troublesome wisdom teeth removed while you are young as a tooth’s roots have not formed totally, and the bone surrounding the tooth is softer. This allows for easier removal of the tooth, and there is less risk of damage to adjacent anatomical structures including nerves, bone or other teeth.
Common reasons for removal of your wisdom teeth include:
- There is inadequate space in your jaws for the wisdom tooth to erupt into
- Acute infections which result in pain, swelling, difficulty eating, and occasionally severe neck infections
- Chronic infection which result in bone loss and damage to the adjacent molar tooth (e.g. resorption cavities)
- Development of pathology around the wisdom tooth (e.g. a cyst)
Options for Removal
Once you have been fully assessed and a treatment plan formulated, your extractions can take place in a variety of settings appropriate for you. This includes under local anaesthetic only, conscious sedation, or general anaesthetic in a day procedure hospital or clinic. Care will be individualised to you and your circumstances after a full and open discussion about your treatment options.
Once you are appropriately anaethetised, your surgeon will make an incision in your gums to expose the wisdom tooth for removal. Often a small amount of bone will be removed with a precision drill, and sometimes the tooth needs to be divided prior to removal. The entire extraction socket is cleaned thoroughly and the gums are then stitched using dissolvable stitches.
Following the anaesthesia and safe removal of your wisdom tooth, you can usually make a safe and comfortable recovery at home with your family or friends once you are discharged from the clinic or hospital.
Normally a prescription will be given to you for pain killers, antiseptic mouthwash, anti-inflammatories, and occasionally antibiotics. This will be discussed with you prior to surgery so ensure you are comfortable with the medications prescribed.
To aid a comfortable recovery please make sure you:
- Rest at home after the surgery
- Do not drive, engage in active exercise or sports, or operate machinery
- Take several days off school, work, or other duties
- Keep the areas clean with mouthwashes
- Do not drink alcohol while taking your medications
- Do not smoke
- Use ice packs to reduce pain and swelling in the first 48 hours
- Have a soft meals
A follow-up appointment is usually scheduled for 2-3 weeks following the removal of your wisdom teeth to assess healing and progress. If you are unable to attend your follow-up appointment, or feel that a review is unnecessary, then please call the clinic to reschedule or cancel your appointment.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Singh to discuss wisdom your teeth then please contact us here.