General Dental

Wisdom Teeth

Choose to have your wisdom teeth removed under IV sedation with our anaesthetist

About your wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are the ‘third molars’ that typically appear after the rest of the permanent teeth, usually during late adolescence or early adulthood. Some people’s wisdom teeth never develop, or they may only develop a couple. However, most people develop four wisdom teeth – two on the top arch and two on the bottom.

The number of wisdom teeth that you develop is not a problem. However, wisdom teeth can encounter some difficulties when coming through, and this can lead to other dental complications, including pain, infection, damage to adjacent teeth, decay, and inflammation of the gums.

Some people’s wisdom teeth come through with no issues at all, while other’s jaws can be too small to accommodate them all. If there is a lack of space for wisdom teeth to come through properly, they may erupt at an angle. This can lead to them pushing against adjacent teeth, which causes pain and can irritate the gums. This is what is commonly referred to as an impacted tooth.
 

When should I remove wisdom teeth?

Some wisdom teeth never fully erupt, which can lead to swollen, infected, or irritated gum tissue that surrounds the partially erupted tooth. If your wisdom tooth has only partially broken through the gum and is causing swelling or pain, your dentist may need to prescribe you antibiotics, or they may recommend that the wisdom tooth be extracted.

Your dentist will usually start monitoring the development of your wisdom teeth when you are between 16 to 19 years of age. This is so that they can see how much room you have for them to come through and to monitor if you need to have them removed.

Patients often experience some anxiety when oral surgery is mentioned, mostly because of the associated thought of pain and discomfort following the surgery, however, forgoing the removal of wisdom teeth often does more harm than good.

Your dentist will advise the removal of wisdom teeth for reasons such as:

  • Infection
  • Overcrowding of the mouth and jaw area
  • Dental Decay
  • Poorly aligned or impacted teeth

If your dentist recommends that a wisdom tooth or teeth need to be extracted, they may be able to remove it in the dental chair under local anaesthetic. However, if it is a more complicated case or if you prefer to have the surgery performed under general anaesthetic, your dentist may refer you to a specialist oral surgeon.

 

Removing wisdom teeth

In most cases, wisdom teeth extractions in the dental chair are no different from having any other tooth extracted. Your dentist will use a local anaesthetic to numb the area. You should be able to feel pressure but no pain. We also offer sedation options for anxious patients if required.

Your dentist will then apply pressure to the tooth to help loosen it from the socket. Once the tooth becomes loose, forceps are then used to loosen the tooth further until it can be raised out of the socket.
 

What’s the extraction process like?

During the procedure, you may feel a lot of pressure, but you shouldn’t feel any pain. You may experience some jaw discomfort from needing to keep your mouth open, but your dentist will give you frequent opportunities to have a rest, which will help minimise some of this discomfort.

If the wisdom tooth is impacted, your dentist may make an incision into the gum and may remove some of the surrounding bone as well. They will then close the incision with stitches to make sure that everything heals correctly. Wisdom teeth extractions typically take 30 to 60 minutes in total.

If you are having your wisdom tooth or teeth extracted by an oral surgeon, they will be able to discuss their procedure with you before the extraction taking place.

Wisdom teeth tend to be on the larger size, so even if you have a straightforward extraction, you may still need stitches after they are removed. The removal may cause some bleeding and swelling for the first few days; however, over-the-counter pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen should help to alleviate some of the pain.

 

Post extraction and Care tips

It usually takes a few days to a week to recover from a wisdom tooth extraction. Below are some steps that can help ensure that your recovery is as quick and smooth as possible.

  •  Take any medications as prescribed, including over-the-counter painkillers if recommended.
  • Apply an ice pack to your cheek after the procedure to help reduce and minimise swelling. Use the ice pack for 10-minute intervals.

      Caring instructions:

  • Make sure that you place a barrier, like a towel, between your skin and the ice pack.
  • Don’t use a straw for the first 24 hours as the sucking action can increase your risk of developing a dry socket.
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol for at least the first 48 hours, as both significantly increase your chances of developing a dry socket.
  • Brush and floss as per usual, making sure that for the first day or two, you avoid the extraction site.
  • Eat soft foods such as pudding, custard, mashed potato for around a week following the extraction. As you heal, you can slowly reintroduce other foods back into your diet.
  • After 24 hours, add 1/2 tsp of salt to half a glass of lukewarm water and gently rinse out your mouth as recommended by your dentist.

What is a Dry Socket?

When an adult tooth is extracted, it leaves an empty socket where a blood clot should usually form. This blood clot acts as a protective layer that covers the bone and prevents it from becoming dehydrated. It also helps to protect any nerve endings that may have been exposed during the extraction. If this blood clot doesn’t form or it becomes dislodged, this can lead to a lot of pain and can allow debris such as food to settle into the socket.

There are times when a dry socket may occur for reasons that are outside of your control. However, smoking, the use of alcohol, oral contraceptives, spitting, and sucking actions may all increase the risk of you developing a dry socket. You must follow all instructions provided to you by your dentist so that you can lower your chance of developing a dry socket.

Getting help

If you experience pain that doesn’t go away after several days, or you are concerned that you are showing signs of infection, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.

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