Wisdom teeth (also called “third molars”) are located at the very back of the mouth. They usually do not erupt until 17 to 25 years old, and sometimes do not develop at all.
Wisdom teeth can often develop without complications, however, in some people wisdom teeth might cause issues requiring treatment and/or management.
When there is not enough space in the jaw for wisdom teeth to erupt normally into the dental arch they can become wedged or “impacted” in the jaw. When this occurs, it can cause a number of often painful issues, including one or more of the following:
The decision to remove wisdom teeth (and any teeth for that matter!) is not taken lightly. For this reason, it is essential to have a comprehensive examination with your dentist who will need to assess the whole mouth visually, and with different types of radiographs.
If your dentist decides that the wisdom teeth are causing any of the previously mentioned issues, they may recommend extraction of one or more teeth.
The extractions are usually done by the dentist but will sometimes be referred to a Maxillo-facial Surgeon if they are exceptionally difficult. It will also be decided whether the teeth should be extracted under local anaesthetic (with the patient conscious) or general anaesthetic (with the patient unconscious).
Wisdom teeth are removed with basically the same techniques as extractions of any other teeth in the mouth.
As wisdom teeth are more difficult to access and are more likely to be impacted, some minor surgery may need to be performed. This can involve incisions in the gums and some removal of bone to make access to the tooth easier.
Often stitches will be placed over the extraction site which can aid healing and reduce the likelihood of infection. Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed to further reduce the chances of infection.
The doctor will often want to review the patient in approximately one week to check the healing of the site, and to remove the stitches.
As with any surgical procedure, there are chances of unwanted complications. After a thorough examination including detailed radiographs and planning, the chances of major complication may be relatively low.
It is important to be aware of the possibility of the occurrence of following complications with any oral surgery:
After your wisdom teeth removal, your dentist will monitor you to ensure that you are alright to leave the surgery. It is often recommended to have a family member or friend to drive you to and from the practice.
Your dentist will give you written and verbal instructions on how best to recover and take care of your extraction site/s. You will also be advised as to whether you will need antibiotics or pain-relief at this stage.
In general, there are a few best practices after wisdom teeth removal;
This information is a summary of the wisdom teeth removal process. Each case is unique and the process may vary from patient to patient. It is important to see a dentist regularly to plan for any issues with not only the wisdom teeth, but the mouth in general. Your dentist will explain in detail any information pertaining to your particular case.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
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