Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom Teeth - Should they stay or should they go?

Nicknamed “wisdom teeth” because they usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25 (the so-called “age of wisdom”), wisdom teeth are a third set of molars at the back of your mouth.

Anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth were once necessary so that our early ancestors could eat their rough diet, which required more chewing power. Over the years, however, human dietary needs, as well as jawbone anatomy, have evolved to the point where wisdom teeth are not only unnecessary but are now often detrimental to our modern oral health. With softer diets and shorter jawbones, the average modern human mouth can comfortably accommodate 28 teeth. The addition of four wisdom teeth often creates crowding and eruption problems that can give rise to a variety of oral health issues.

What problems can wisdom teeth cause?

Impacted wisdom teeth don’t always cause symptoms.

However, food can get stuck in between the covering gum or the neighbouring teeth and can mainly cause infection of the gum that surrounds or covers the wisdom tooth and also may cavities in the adjacent teeth or the wisdom tooth itself may arise. Cyst formation and jawbone tumour are not uncommon complications of impacted wisdom teeth

What are the signs and symptoms that may arise from that?

Look out for these signs of impacted teeth. If you begin to experience discomfort due to any of these symptoms, you may experience relief with a removal or extraction procedure.

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Fever
  • Frequent Headaches

How to manage wisdom tooth pain?

Our dentist will see you for a consultation to assess your wisdom teeth and to request an OPG x-ray to check the size and shape of the roots. Sometimes antibiotics and painkillers are required if the infection is severe.

Treatment could be one of three options:

  • Delay surgery while monitoring the symptoms
  • Surgically extract the tooth/teeth in the chair under local anaesthesia and sedation (happy gas)
  • Surgically extract the tooth/teeth in hospital under general anaesthesia.

Should I have wisdom teeth removed?

Each year, five million people worldwide have their wisdom teeth removed. However, sometimes the surgery is unnecessary.

Your dentist will examine your mouth and take an x-ray in order to determine whether you are a candidate. Sometimes they will delay surgery to see if the impacted tooth will realign itself once it pushes through the gum. Treatment will also be postponed if there is infection in the area around the tooth.

Sometimes your dentist will advise early removal of one or more wisdom teeth if the tooth is causing pain, or there is clearly not enough space for it to push through. If you’re young, the surrounding bone is softer and roots are less formed, allowing easier removal.

Either way, the decision is yours, and your dentist will answer any concerns you have.

Do you have to go to hospital to get wisdom teeth taken out?

After an x-ray examination, your doctor will advise on the best way to remove problem wisdom teeth. This depends on how complex the case is. If your case is fairly simple, you may be given a local anaesthetic. This will numb the lower part of your face and gums allowing pain free extraction.

If you feel nervous, your dentist may offer medicine to help you relax during surgery. If it is a difficult extraction, or there are multiple teeth to be removed, your dentist will recommend general anaesthesia.

What exactly happens during the procedure?

Your dentist will make an incision to open your gum in order to remove the wisdom tooth. Sometimes a small amount of bone will have to be removed to allow your dentist to access the tooth.

The tooth may have to be divided into sections in order to remove it easily and smoothly. Sometimes stitches are necessary. If this is the case, they will either dissolve within a few days, or will be removed by your dentist.

How should I take care of my mouth after surgery?

Your dentist will ask you to rest for a while and check on you as you recover. You mustn’t drive after surgery. Ask a friend or family member in advance to take you home. You should take several days off work or school, get plenty of rest and avoid smoking and alcohol. Do not engage in strenuous exercise, driving or operating machinery. Make sure you drink plenty of water and stick to soft foods such as yoghurt, soups and stews. Levels of pain vary from person to person, and your dentist will advise on a pain relief plan tailored to you. Pain usually starts to wear off after the second day, but could persist for up to a week.

Are there any common side effects of wisdom tooth removal?

After surgery, it’s completely normal to be a bit sore. You could have limited movement of your jaw and struggle to open your mouth wide. Swelling can also occur around the mouth, eyes and cheeks. This varies person to person and can be mild or severe. Rest assured it is a normal, healthy response and will be at its worst by the third day. Bleeding during the first day is also common. Another possible complication, though not common, involves the lower jaw nerves being traumatised by removal of the lower wisdom teeth. This can cause an unusual sensation in the lips, tongue or gum near the treated area. Generally this complication is temporary, but in some cases it can be longer lasting.

How can I ease these symptoms?

Ice packs can be applied to the cheeks during the first 24 hours after surgery. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a clean tea-towel will do the trick and ensure that it’s not uncomfortably cold. This will not only reduce swelling, but relieve discomfort during the healing process.

For bleeding, bite down firmly for at least 30 seconds on the gauze pad your dentist gave you. If you lose this, a clean handkerchief, tampon or used tea bag can be used. Do not use cotton wool or tissues, as these can break apart. If this method does not stop the bleeding, contact your dentist immediately. This is especially important if you are taking “blood thinners”.

How much will it cost to remove a wisdom tooth?

The average cost of wisdom tooth extraction can be anywhere in between $250 to $450 per tooth depending on the complexity of the impaction and tooth/roots anatomy. Our dentist will quote you the exact fees after the initial consultation. 

Would my private health insurance cover wisdom teeth extraction?

Most private dental insurance covers wisdom teeth extractions and dental sedation. Rebates will vary depending on your policy.

Can I smoke after having my wisdom teeth removed?

Smoking and vaping are totally prohibited after extractions for at least 2 days as it may cause severe bleeding, infection and dry socket (Delayed healing).

Do I need to take time off work after wisdom teeth extraction?

On average 2 days of rest and refraining from physical exercise is advised after surgical extraction.

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