Wisdom teeth are the third/last permanent molars. Most people have four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. These teeth are commonly called wisdom teeth because they usually erupt between the ages of 16 to 21, known as the ‘age of wisdom’. A wisdom tooth is impacted when it is obstructed from erupting fully into the mouth by the tooth in front of it or the surrounding bone or gums.
Problems Caused by Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth that are have not properly come through – impacted – are breeding grounds for bacteria and may cause tooth decay, sometimes even affecting neighbouring teeth. Infection of the overlying gums can take place as well, resulting in pain and swelling.
More serious problems such as cysts or tumours around an impacted tooth can occur, leading to destruction of the surrounding jawbone and neighbouring teeth. These conditions may require complex and extensive treatment. These problems can develop silently, without your knowledge so it is important to have regular dental check ups.
Check up and Consultation
Your initial visit to the dentist would include an examination of your mouth and X-rays to determine the position of the wisdom teeth, their condition and the status of the adjacent teeth and bone.
It may not always be necessary to remove your wisdom teeth. However, if you have been experiencing acute pain, or if leaving the tooth there will cause problems to adjacent teeth, your dentist will consider taking the tooth out.
This is a minor surgical procedure that can usually be performed with little discomfort. It can be performed under local anaesthesia (with or without sedation to control anxiety, our dentists have special experience in this so please do let us know if you are worried) or general anaesthesia. Your dentist will advise you on the type most appropriate for you.
The surgery involves uncovering the tooth by lifting the overlying gums aside to expose the tooth and bone. The tooth may need to be sectioned in order to remove it. The gums are then stitched back.
You will experience some minor bleeding from the wound. This is natural and can be controlled by biting on a piece of gauze over the operation area for about half an hour. Facial swelling and discolouration of the overlying skin will also develop, increasing for the first 72 hours and subsiding thereafter. You may not be able to open your mouth as wide as usual for a few days.
Painkillers, antibiotics and an antiseptic mouthwash are usually prescribed after the surgery. You will be advised to maintain good oral hygiene and also to keep to a soft diet for a few days following surgery.