Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to appear in the mouth between the age of 17 and 25. Also known as your third molars, they don’t always emerge despite resting in the jaw. The maximum number of teeth an adult can have is 32, but many modern jaws are too small to hold more than 28, leading to the frequent removal of wisdom teeth.
Many suffer from pain and discomfort as their wisdom teeth attempt to come through the gums, particularly when they’re coming through at an angle or attempting to fit into a small mouth. But this is not the only reason for removal; in some cases wisdom teeth are removed to protect established teeth from damage as the wisdom teeth grow too close.
Caring for wisdom teeth
If you are lucky enough to have your wisdom teeth through in a healthy position, it is important to give them the same level of dental care as any other tooth. Although positioned far back in the mouth, wisdom teeth require twice daily brushing and flossing to avoid the build up of bacteria and the onset of gum disease.
Removing wisdom teeth
Similar to general surgical extraction, the removal of wisdom teeth will begin with an x-ray to establish its position and angle in the gum. If your dentist feels that your tooth may have enough room to grow through without causing problems, they may suggest that extraction is not necessary.
If extraction is necessary, however, then you will be given a local anaesthetic before the process begins. This will block the pain present in your gums during the procedure while you remain awake. However, if your dentist thinks your tooth is particularly challenging they may suggest you have the procedure under general anaesthetic.
Wisdom teeth extraction is similar to the removal of any other molar, and involves the widening of the tooth socket, separating the tissue and bone that holds the tooth. Once the tooth is loosened, it will then be removed completely. If your tooth has deep roots, however, it may be difficult to extract. If this is the case, your dentist may need to cut through the gums and remove some of your bone in order to remove the tooth.
After your procedure you are advised to rest, and those who have had a local anaesthetic may experience a numbing around the area for several hours. Some swelling and discomfort in and around the extraction area can also be expected for a few days after the procedure.
It is possible that your dentist will prescribe antibiotics or mouthwash to reduce the throbbing after the treatment, but if you require further pain relieve seek advice from them at a later date.