Wisdom Teeth

The last teeth to appear, wisdom teeth or third molars usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25, although some emerge many years later. Although adults can have a maximum of 32 teeth, many jaws are too small to hold anymore than 28. In order to make room, wisdom teeth are often removed.

Although some people are lucky enough to keep all their teeth without experiencing pain, many still suffer. This is frequently the case when the teeth grow through at an angle or only partially break the surface of the gum, which can lead to decay due to lack of cleaning. Wisdom teeth may also require removal if they are causing severe pain and discomfort.

If there is enough space in your mouth, you may not require removal. This is the case when the teeth grow through at a practical angle and can be cleaned effectively. However, your third molars require the same level of dental hygiene as other teeth and will decay if neglected, potentially leading to infection and gum disease.

The removal process

The procedure of the removal is the same as a surgical extraction. Before the treatment begins, your dentist will take an x-ray to establish the position of the root and assess whether the tooth has enough room to grow through. If your dentist approves the removal, you will come back for a separate appointment during which the extraction will take place.

Throughout the extraction process you will be given a local anaesthetic, which will block the pain from your gums while keeping you awake. However, if your wisdom teeth appear particularly challenging you may require a general anaesthetic.

Many wisdom teeth can be extracted in the same way as other molars. The first step involves widening the socket that holds your molar, separating the tissue and bone that holds the tooth. Once loosened, the tooth will then be removed completely. However, if your tooth has deep roots and may be difficult to extract, your dentist might choose to cut through the gums and remove some of the bone in order to reach it. The open wounds will then be stitched if required.

Wisdom teeth removal aftercare

Depending on the anaesthetic used, you may be advised to rest after your procedure. Those who have had local anaesthetic may also suffer from a numbing of the jaw for several hours.

Some swelling and discomfort can be expected after an extraction, but the pain will often dissipate after a few days. It is possible to take painkillers after the treatment, and many dentists will prescribe antibiotics and mouthwash to reduce the throbbing.

Your dentist will provide tailored advice to help you care for your mouth while it’s still healing, as well as maintenance advice to keep your mouth healthy in the future.

Are there any risks?

As with any procedure there are possible side effects that may occur after the extraction. These include swelling, bruising and jaw stiffness. As with the pain, these symptoms should begin to disappear after a couple of days, but if you’re concerned ask your dentist for some advice.

By Dr Zuber Bagasi