Wisdom teeth can cause problems with your oral health. While a few lucky people never feel any discomfort or need wisdom teeth surgery, for others, they can cause severe discomfort and your dentist may recommend removal.
Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure but the complexity of the surgery depends on the position and condition of the wisdom tooth. Here is our guide to wisdom teeth surgery and how it can help you restore your smile.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third, and the last set of molars to develop. While they can grow at different times of a person’s life, they usually erupt between the late teens and mid-twenties.
However, at this stage, other teeth have usually already grown into the jaw. If there is insufficient space for a wisdom tooth, or it emerges at an unusual angle, it becomes impacted and requires a wisdom tooth removal.
What Problems Can Occur?
An impacted wisdom tooth can cause serious health issues because the position of the tooth prevents you from performing adequate oral hygiene. This can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and painful conditions, including a cyst or an abscess.
If you have an impacted tooth, you may experience symptoms such as discomfort in your jaw, tender or bleeding gums, and find it difficult to open your mouth fully.
How Can Wisdom Teeth Surgery Help?
Your dentist will perform an oral exam to check if you need wisdom teeth surgery. At Available Dental Care, we offer state-of-the-art imaging technology, including Sirona Orthophos SL digital scanning which provides us with an in-depth view of your teeth, jaw, and gum health.
This can help us determine whether you need wisdom teeth surgery, and plan an appropriate course of treatment. There are two general options for wisdom tooth surgery.
Simple tooth extraction is performed on wisdom teeth that have fully or partially erupted. For simple wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist numbs the gum surrounding the tooth with a local anaesthetic. If preferred, they can offer nitrous oxide or IV sedation to put you into a conscious but sleep-like state.
Your dentist then uses forceps to move the tooth back and forth in the socket to loosen the tooth from the connective tissue. Then, they use a dental elevator to slip between the tooth and the surrounding jawbone to expand the socket so the forceps can grip the tooth and lift it out.
The socket is then stuffed with gauze to stop any bleeding and encourage a clot to form.
If your wisdom tooth is impacted, the only solution may be surgical removal under general anaesthetic. This complex extraction is typically performed by a maxillofacial surgeon at a dental hospital.
As an impacted tooth may not have fully emerged, the surgeon may have to make an incision in the gum to expose the impacted tooth. The tooth may need to be cut into smaller pieces for easier removal. The wound site is then cleaned and sutured.
Recovery After Wisdom Teeth Surgery
Following your simple wisdom teeth surgery, you can expect the recovery process to take between 3-7 days.
Immediately after the procedure, lightly press down on gauze over the wound to stem any residual bleeding. As the area can still be numb, be careful not to bite down too hard. You can take over-the-counter pain medications to help relieve any discomfort.
For the first 24 hours, apply an ice pack to the side of your face to help reduce swelling. Eating soft foods, such as fruit, smoothies, yoghurt, applesauce and soups, also lowers the risk of hurting the affected area.
Don’t drink through a straw, smoke, or rinse your mouth as this can dislodge the clot causing a painful condition known as dry socket. Also, avoid any very hot or cold drinks as the gum may still be sensitive.
After 24 hours has passed, gently wash around the operation site with a warm water salt rinse, which soothes the gum and helps reduce the risk of infection.
If you are unable to decrease the swelling or notice pus around the site, this may indicate an infection, and you should contact your dentist immediately. They can arrange an appointment for an oral examination, and if necessary, they provide you with a prescription for antibiotics.
Wisdom teeth removal is a routine medical procedure and can help to prevent a range of serious health complications in the future.
If you feel your wisdom teeth are causing problems for your oral health, or causing you discomfort, you can arrange an appointment with a dental professional at Available Dental Care. Call us on 02 4062 8763 for a consultation to determine whether you need a wisdom tooth extraction.