Historically, wisdom teeth were thought to represent a coming of age, as they commonly appear between the ages of 18 – 21. However wisdom teeth can erupt at any stage in life from 16 to 60. Some people are lucky enough to have sufficient space for their wisdom teeth to erupt, giving them a third set of molars!
Unfortunately, for the most of us, wisdom teeth can cause problems. If there is not enough space for the teeth to erupt, they can cause pain and damage to the existing teeth. In some cases wisdom teeth grow towards and begin to erode the second molar tooth, these are referred to as impacted teeth.
Wisdom teeth that begin to partially erupt prove a great hiding spot for bacteria and plaque.
Removal of wisdom teeth
Before removing any of your wisdom teeth, your dentist will require a full mouth x-ray to determine the position of the teeth. Wisdom teeth can lie close to the sinuses and dental nerves, causing possible complications during their removal. Some complicated cases may be referred on to an oral surgeon who specialises in the removal of surgical extractions.
In most cases, wisdom teeth can be removed under local anaesthetic, meaning, you remain awake for the procedure but feel no pain in the numbed region. Should you feel any anxiety about your extractions, it is easy to arrange either happy-gas, mild sedation or even a general anaesthetic.
What can I expect after having my wisdom teeth removed?
Removal of a wisdom tooth can be a little different to having a normal tooth removed. It is common to expect some noticeable facial swelling, particularly if the wisdom tooth is deeply impacted within jaw bone and requires surgical removal. You can also expect a dull ache in the days that follow and may experience difficulties opening and closing your mouth.
It’s important to allow your body time to heal following any kind of operation, and wisdom teeth are no exception. Strenuous physical activities should be avoided in the week after your extraction as this will reduce the risk of infection and inflammation.
Possible side effects of a wisdom tooth extraction:
Infection/swelling may occur in the gum or bone, and can be treated with antibiotics. Warm salt-water rinses will help to prevent infection, but start rinses the day after your extraction.
Should infection occur, consult your dentist as they will be able to clean and redress the socket and prescribe antibiotics if required. Swelling may cause difficulty opening your mouth, however, it should ease as the swelling ceases.
A painful dry socket arises from the initial blood clot that forms in the socket dislodging and leaving areas of the bone exposed to bacteria. Dry sockets usually appear 3-5 days after an extraction. Specialist pain relief is available from your dentist. Teeth positioned close to the sinus may create openings into the sinus cavity once extracted. In most cases, the opening heals quickly and without infection. In extreme cases, corrective oral surgery may be required.
Numbness or an altered sensation of the lips and/or tongue may occur in cases where the roots of extracted teeth lie close to nerves. Numbness usually disappears after a few weeks when the nerve has recovered but can take up to 6-12 months to heal completely. In rare cases, the nerve may never heal, and the sensation may be permanent.
While excessive bleeding is rare, it must be treated seriously. If bleeding does not ease using pressure via supplied gauze packs, contact your dentist immediately.
During the procedure some pressure and stretching of the lips can occur as the dentist gains access to your teeth. This can sometimes cause lip sores, which heal within a few days.