Wisdom teeth extractions: what you need to know

November 1, 2017

Your wisdom teeth are the last teeth to grow in your mouth, usually appearing between the ages of 17 and 25. While these teeth don’t always cause problems, they can be painful or increase your risk of oral health problems if the wisdom tooth is trapped inside your gum or causing crowding in your mouth.

Wisdom teeth extraction can correct these issues or prevent them from happening in the first place. However, it’s important that you understand what this treatment involves and what the risks are before you decide to go through with it.

Why do I have wisdom tooth pain?

Just like any other teeth, some discomfort is normal when wisdom teeth first erupt from the gums. However, chronic or persistent pain can be a sign of a problem, and you should make an appointment with your dentist.

A wisdom tooth may cause pain if:

  • it’s trapped in your gum and unable to come through (also known as impacted wisdom teeth)
  • it breaks inside your gum, leading to an infection or cyst
  • there isn’t enough space in your mouth, putting pressure on the surrounding teeth (crowding)
  • its position or angle in your mouth makes it harder to clean, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Should I get a wisdom tooth removed?

Your dentist may recommend wisdom tooth removal to treat an existing problem caused by a wisdom tooth, or as a preventive measure to stop these problems from happening in the future. Not everyone experiences problems with their wisdom teeth, but as these teeth are not essential for your oral health, your dentist may advise having them extracted as a precaution.

This is usually recommended for patients in their late teens and early 20s, when the wisdom teeth are still developing and easier to remove. It’s especially recommended if you have a medical condition that increases your risk of oral health problems.

What happens during wisdom tooth removal?

Your dentist will make sure you know exactly what will happen during the procedure, which may be performed at a dental clinic or a hospital. Wisdom tooth extraction is an invasive treatment that involves oral surgery.

You may be offered a choice of sedation options, including intravenous (IV) sedation to help you feel relaxed during your treatment or general anaesthesia if you’d prefer to be unconscious, although this type of sedation requires your treatment to be carried out in a hospital, and has a longer recovery period. Local anaesthesia will also be used to numb any pain in your mouth.

During the procedure, your dentist will make an incision in your gum to access the wisdom tooth. They may also need to remove some bone tissue in the jaw that’s holding the tooth root in place. They will then either loosen and pull the tooth from its socket or break it into pieces first, depending on how difficult it is to remove.

Once the wisdom tooth has been extracted, the treated site will be cleaned and sterilised to prevent bacteria from entering, then stitched closed. Your dentist will place gauze over the area to control the bleeding and help your gum to heal.

How can I speed up my recovery?

Most patients recover from wisdom tooth removal in a few days. You can improve your chance of a speedy recovery by following your dentist’s advice and taking any medication they prescribe to help you manage bleeding and swelling.

You should aim to rest for 24 hours after your treatment, eating only soft foods, drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol, caffeine and soft drinks. You should also avoid activities for the next few days that might cause the blood clot in the treated area to loosen, including smoking and spitting.

You should avoid brushing your teeth or using mouthwash for the first 24 hours. For the next few days, brush gently and regularly rinse your mouth with warm salt water to help your gum heal.

Your dentist will also provide you with post-treatment instructions to help you recover quicker.

What are the risks?

Like any type of dental surgery, there are risks involved with wisdom tooth extraction. Your dentist will explain what these possible complications are, so you can decide whether you want to go through with the treatment.

Some of the complications associated with tooth extractions include dry socket, which happens if the blood clot in the socket becomes dislodged and exposed to the air, as well as infections, difficulty opening your mouth and persistent numbness or bleeding that lasts longer than 24 hours.

If you have any of these symptoms, or you notice other unexpected side-effects, you should contact your dentist immediately.

Talk to a dentist in Brunswick or Kew

If you want to know more about wisdom tooth extractions or other dental procedures, get in touch with All Day EveryDay Dental.

Call our friendly Melbourne dentists on (03) 9853 1811 or make an appointment online.

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