For many of us, wisdom teeth can become impacted and cannot be left untreated – often requiring removal.
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Our rear teeth are known as the third molars, and most people have four of these – two upper and two lower. They are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth, usually emerging between the ages of 16 and 23 – hence the popular term wisdom teeth. But not everyone has wisdom teeth; some people are born without any or with fewer than four.
Most of us have enough room in our mouths for wisdom teeth to erupt normally, in line with our other teeth. In such cases, wisdom teeth function the same as our other molars and will not require any treatment.
How do I know if my Wisdom Teeth need to be removed?
These teeth only become impacted when there is insufficient gum space for normal eruption. An impacted wisdom tooth is one that grows out at an angle, or does not fully emerge from the gum line. The gum around that tooth can then become swollen and painful, and in some cases even infected. Some of the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include:
- Swollen and bleeding gums
- Pain and swelling around the jaw
- Bad breath
- Headache or jaw ache
- Unpleasant taste when eating
If left untreated, wisdom teeth can cause more serious problems, like dental decay or damage to nearby teeth. However, impacted wisdom teeth do not always show any symptoms, so you might not even realise you have impacted teeth.
The easiest way to know if you need your wisdom teeth extracted is to visit your dentist for an examination. After your dental and medical history have been checked, you will have an X-ray to assess the position and angulation of your wisdom teeth.
Why Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed
- Infection of adjacent gum tissue
- Dental decay of adjacent teeth
- Crowding of front teeth
- Pressure pain or root resorption
- Cysts (in rare cases)
When Should Wisdom Teeth be removed?
It is well documented that removal of wisdom teeth in young adults (under the age of 25) is associated with less after-operation pain and swelling than in older adults. Therefore, if it is determined that your wisdom teeth are likely to cause problems, your dentist will usually recommend that you have them removed earlier rather than later.
How to Prepare for Wisdom Tooth Removal
The length of your procedure may vary depending on how many wisdom teeth you are having removed or how complicated the removal is. If you decide to have your wisdom teeth removed under nitrous sedation (“happy gas”), we recommend having someone drive you home after your procedure. It is normal to have some pain and swelling afterwards so preparing some ice packs at home will help with recovery. The dentist will also recommend what pain relief is required on the day.
Where the Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure is Performed
The procedure can be performed either under local anaesthetic in the dental chair or under general anaesthetic administered by a specialist anaethetist in a hospital. Taking into account your preference, your dentist will discuss with you the form of anaesthesia most appropriate in your case.
Wisdom Teeth Removal under Local Anaesthetic
Wisdom tooth removal under local anaesthetic is done in the dental chair and renders the area to be worked completely numb. You’ll still be awake and aware of everything happening, and you may still feel pressure applied to the area.
Wisdom Teeth Removal under General Anaesthetic
When having your wisdom teeth removed using general anaesthetic, the procedure will take place in a hospital (as day surgery) and be performed by an oral & maxillofacial surgeon which you will be referred to. A specialist anaesthetist will administer the general anaesthetic and monitor you during surgery. Patients generally have no recollection of the procedure afterwards.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dentist by the Park provides convenience for patients to access dentists with a special interest in wisdom teeth surgery so they often do not need to go elsewhere for the treatment. For any treatment relating to your wisdom teeth you can start with a consultation with one of our dentists who will then discuss with you about your options.
With an experienced team, and a visually beautiful and serene practice, we provide our patients with the highest quality care and comfortable surroundings in which to undergo wisdom tooth removal.
At Dentist by the Park you might have your initial consultation with one of our general dentists, and then, depending on the complexity of the extraction and your personal preference, your procedure can be performed by either a general dentist or a specialist.
General dentists can extract wisdom teeth, although many now choose to refer patients to a specialist oral surgeon. If you wish to be anaesthetised for the procedure or your extractions are expected to be more complex, it is best to be treated by a registered specialist.
Specialist oral & maxillofacial surgeons have at least 15 years’ training in both general dentistry and hospital-based surgical and medical treatments, and so have extensive experience in performing wisdom teeth extractions.
You will be seen by a general dentist and a specialist referral will be made if necessary after reviewing the case with you.
At Dentist by the Park, we provide you with an itemised quotation during your consultation. You may then wish to contact your health insurance fund to gauge your out-of-pocket expenses.
The cost of your wisdom teeth removal procedure will vary depending on whether it is performed by a general dentist or an oral & maxillofacial surgeon.
Another factor that will affect the cost is the complexity of the removal and the type of anaesthesia used. If the surgery is performed in a hospital then there will be additional hospital fees, though Medicare and private health funds can cover some of the hospital costs.
As with all surgical procedures, there are general and specific risks associated with wisdom teeth removal, and these usually depend on whether a tooth being removed is covered by gum tissue and/or is particularly difficult to access. Your specific risks will be discussed in detail during your consultation with one of Dentist by the Park clinicians.
One uncommon complication is known as dry socket. This occurs when a blood clot has failed to form in the extracted tooth socket, or the blood clot has been dislodged. Dry socket typically occurs three or four days after the extraction. Pain (ranging from dull, to moderate to severe) and a foul mouth odour will accompany a dry socket. If you think you have developed dry socket you should contact the practice immediately for treatment.
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. In cases where the teeth in question are close to crucial nerves, it is prudent to be treated by a specialist oral & maxillofacial surgeon to ensure a safe level of care.
A small amount of bleeding, some discomfort and a little bruising are all normal after wisdom teeth removal. The recovery time following your procedure depends on the complexity of your case; if it was a simple removal you should be back to normal the next day, but if it was more complex your recovery time could be up to a week. Pain medication can be taken to ease some of the discomfort.
When you have had your surgery at Dentist by the Park, you will be given a post-operative pack. This will include written instructions on what to do, a medical certificate if required, additional gauzes for any post-operative bleeding, and a mouthwash and syringe for keeping the surgery site clean. Additionally, painkillers and antibiotics, if needed, will be prescribed.
While recovering from your surgery, you will need to maintain a soft diet (possibly just liquids) until the site has started healing. Cold foods or foods at room temperature are best. Hot food or drinks are not recommended as they can break down the blood clot in the socket and cause infection or “dry socket”. You should also make sure not to drink from a straw as this can also disturb the blood clot.
After having your wisdom teeth removed it’s important to keep your mouth clean so as to prevent infection, but you will need to be careful when cleaning your teeth and be particularly gentle in the affected area.
Your clinician will instruct you on general post-operative oral care and on the following precautions:
- Avoid smoking for at least 72 hours but longer if possible.
- Don’t drink through a straw.
- Avoid dinking alcohol.
- Avoid blowing your nose.
- Avoid excessive spitting or rinsing.
- Don’t drink hot soup or other hot liquids.
- Avoid physical exertion for 24 hours.
Failure to take any of the above precautions might disturb the healing clot and cause dry socket.
Any other specials?
Meet Dr Barry Creighton, our gentle sedation specialist.
Our patients enjoy the convenience of having their dental procedures completed in our clinic without the need to go to hospital for a general anaesthetic. Dr Barry is dedicated to providing exceptional quality of care, and his calm and gentle nature provides all with the reassurance that you are in the safest hands.
Speak to our team to find out if dental sedation is safe for you.
We will send you a confirmation within 24 hours.