Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come out through the gums and appear usually in the late teens or twenties. Some people have no wisdom teeth and some people have all four. Wisdom teeth can get wedged in or ‘impacted’ if there is no space for them to come out. In some situations, these can remain wedged and cause no troubles.
Unfortunately, sometimes the wedged teeth can cause severe pain and other problems and may need to be removed. Depending on the exact shape and position of your wisdom tooth, they can be removed by either a general dentist or a specialist such as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
The decision to have your wisdom teeth removed is always yours but your dentist will advice you on a case by case basis. For instance, if there is swelling and infection around the impacted tooth, your dentist may decide to delay removal until the infection has settled. In some cases, wisdom teeth may hurt as they are pushing through the gum, but may settle down once they have come fully through, so in some cases your dentist may suggest waiting to see if removal is required.
However in many cases, it is ideal to remove the problem tooth early to prevent pain, infection or crowding from becoming worse. In younger people the bone surrounding the tooth would be softer and the roots would not have finished forming, so removal at a younger age leads to less risk of nerve, bone and other damage.
Some problems people experience with wisdom teeth are listed below:
- Infection: infection can lead to swelling, pain, and jaw stiffness as well as bad breath and a strange taste in the mouth. It may be difficult and painful to swallow and you may feel generally unwell. Your dentist may clean the area and ask you to rinse with salt water or a special mouth rinse at home. They may prescribe you antibiotics. The tooth can be removed after the infection has settled down.
- Ulcer: if the wisdom tooth rubs against the cheek it may cause an ulcer and pain in the cheek.
- Crowding: nearby teeth may be pushed into a different position.
- Tooth Pain: pain at the tooth as well as the tooth next to it from the pressure from the swelling.
- Cyst: if an unerupted wisdom tooth is not removed, a cyst can form around the tooth which could lead to the destruction of bone, gums and other teeth.
- Food Trap: the angle of the impacted tooth can cause food and bacteria to get trapped between the wisdom tooth and adjacent tooth which can cause decay in both teeth.
- Resorption: if the impacted tooth keeps pushing on the tooth in front of it, it can cause a resorption cavity (a hole) in the other tooth – this can lead to an infection or an abscess and it may be necessary to remove both teeth.
- Don’t drive after the procedure (organise someone else to drive you on the day)
- Rest at home for the rest of the day at least, try to take a few days off to recover if possible
- Do not drink alcohol when taking antibiotics or painkillers
- Eat soft foods for the first few days and drink plenty of water
- Use ice packs to help with the swelling and pain, your dentist will prescribe pain killers and antibiotics if required
- Do not smoke for at least a few days after the procedure
- Swelling and pain can get worse for up to three days after extraction but should steadily get better after this, if it gets worse, contact your dentist
- Do not disturb the blood clot that forms in the socket (don’t spit or drink with a straw or disturb this area with your tongue or a toothbrush), if there is bleeding after you go home apply pressure by biting firmly on gauze for twenty minutes. If bleeding persists, contact your dentist.
If you have any pain or swelling associated with your impacted wisdom tooth, come in and see our gentle dentists. Our wisdom tooth extraction expert is Dr Claudia Cespedes. She is experienced in all aspects of dentistry but has a special interest in implants and oral surgery. She will make sure your experience is as comfortable and as pain free as possible.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, call us today on 02 8084 7242.