What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth (or third molars) are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth and are the furthest teeth from the front of the mouth.
At what age do wisdom teeth erupt?
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 18-21 but this can vary between patients
Does everyone have wisdom teeth?
No, some people have all four wisdom teeth, some have one, two or three and some even have none.
Do wisdom teeth always cause problems and need removal?
No, in many cases, wisdom teeth erupt fully into the mouth into full function and behave exactly like any other tooth. Where a wisdom tooth remains fully buried, often it can be left alone if it is expected not to cause any problems. Diseased or potentially problematic wisdom teeth should be removed.
What are the reasons for wisdom tooth removal?
-Infection around a partially erupted wisdom tooth
-Unrestorable decay or badly broken down tooth
-Decay of the adjacent tooth caused by the wisdom tooth
-Cyst formation etc
-For orthodontic or prosthetic reasons
Why are wisdom teeth more difficult to remove than other teeth?
This is because of a number of factors;
-The jaw bone in this area is particularly dense
-The roots of wisdom teeth can be multiple and at unfavourable angulations
-The wisdom tooth is often partially covered by gum and jaw bone
-Nerves, blood vessels and the adjacent teeth need to be taken into consideration during the procedure
Are all wisdom tooth extractions difficult?
No, in general:
-Lower wisdom tooth removal is more difficult than upper wisdom tooth removal
-Difficulty increases with the degree of impaction
-Difficulty increases if the tooth is grossly decayed
-Difficulty increases with age (the ideal time for removal is in the 20s & 30s)
How are wisdom teeth removed?
Most lower wisdom teeth are “stuck” and can not be removed like other teeth (this is why you were referred to an oral surgeon). Generally, we need to make a cut in the gum, expose the jaw bone in that area and use a drill to free up the tooth and remove it.
Will I feel pain?
-No, we will ensure that your mouth is fully numb using local anaesthesia- you will feel pinches in your mouth.
-You will not feel the cut in your mouth.
-You will feel some pushing and pressure, this is not pain and is unavoidable.
-The drilling feels exactly like the sensation of having a filling and is not painful.
-Stitches do not hurt.
-We will advise/prescribe pain killers to make your recovery more comfortable.
-If having sedation, you may not even remember the procedure.
What is the recovery period?
This depends on the degree of impaction, the number of teeth and your own particular healing! After the procedure, expect some soreness, swelling, bruising, bleeding & some limited mouth opening. This is usually well controlled with the prescribed pain medications.
A full assessment of this can be made at your consultation. All patients receive a prescription and comprehensive written post-operative instructions following a surgical procedure. Sick certificates can be issued on request.
Everyone has a small possibility of infection or dry socket following an extraction. The pre and post operative instructions aim to reduce this risk.
Will I have nerve damage?
Altered sensation to the lip/chin & tongue is a rare but recognised complication of lower wisdom tooth removal. This is seen in a fraction of a percent of patients. Each individual’s risk can only be assessed following a consultation with an oral surgeon. By having your wisdom teeth removed by an experienced specialist oral surgeon you can minimise (but not eliminate) this risk.