The third (or final) set of molars which generally grow in individuals between late teens and early twenties are known as wisdom teeth. If properly aligned, wisdom teeth can fit perfectly into a person’s mouth. However, in most cases, they are not aligned properly and often require removal.
The angulation of wisdom teeth can protrude either toward or away from the second molars, or could even angle outward or inward. Wisdom teeth, if poorly aligned, can induce crowding, causing other teeth to be pushed out of alignment as a consequence. Aside from crowding, wisdom teeth can also affect adjacent/surrounding teeth, as well as the jawbone and nerves.
When the wisdom tooth or teeth erupt only partially from the gums (with the remainder embedded in the jawbone or soft tissue), this is known as an impacted wisdom tooth. The major problem residing from impacted wisdom teeth is that the partial opening can allow bacteria to enter the body – causing issues such as swelling, pain, jaw stiffness or even other illnesses residing from bacterial infection which could affect the whole body. Additionally, issues such as gum disease and tooth decay can form as a result of impacted teeth, this being as even with regular brushing and flossing, they are harder to keep clean of food particles and bacteria.
Pain is not the only factor of wisdom teeth which can cause problems in the future. Wisdom teeth can induce the slow movement of adjacent and surrounding teeth – this of which has the potential to slowly undo prior orthodontic treatment and lead to crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw.
Removal of wisdom teeth
At each checkup visit, your dentist will review X-rays as well as the positioning of wisdom teeth. It may be recommended to remove either some or all wisdom teeth to prevent future problems such as crowding or decay on neighbouring teeth, as well as to alleviate sources of pain, swelling and infection. It is generally recommended to remove wisdom teeth earlier rather than later as future extractions can become painful or more complex. Additionally, earlier extractions aid in the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay which can cause detriment to neighbouring teeth.
The type of extraction to be performed is generally determined by the position of the wisdom teeth. In the majority of cases, one of our dentists here at Elanora Dentistry can remove your wisdom teeth here in the chair, however in some rare cases, a referral will be required to see an oral surgeon for evaluation.
In the instance that the wisdom tooth has fully erupted through the gum line, it can be removed as easily as any regular tooth. However, if a wisdom tooth presents as impacted, is under the gum line, or embedded in the jaw bone, a surgical extraction may be required – this of which is a form of oral surgery. The method of a surgical extraction involves an incision being made along the gum line to expose the tooth and remove any bone which is still covering the tooth – this allows the tooth to be more easily removed.
Prior to the wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist will numb the surrounding tissue with local anaesthetic to prevent any pain from being felt. It is a regular occurrence to either extract one wisdom tooth at a time or to focus on one half of the mouth at a time to prevent complete numbness of the mouth as well as to provide optimum comfort.
Following numbing of the area, the tooth will be removed, bleeding controlled, and if necessary, the dentist may require the use of sutures/stitches to close the gums. Over the counter medications may also be prescribed to control any swelling or post-procedural pain.
How to recover post extraction
All post-procedure recovery instructions are very important to follow, these include to avoid smoking, chewing hard or tough foods, and strenuous physical activity for a small period of time in allowing for the gums and jaw to heal.
In terms of transport, if only local anaesthetic was administered during the extraction, you are able to drive yourself home. However, if a prescription or anti-anxiety medication had been used, a companion will have to drive you home. Pain and swelling is generally expected for a small while after the extraction, however the dentists here at Elanora Dentistry will thoroughly explain what to expect. If there are any problems beyond which is normally expected such as bleeding or a dry socket, it is recommended to revisit the dentist to have a reassessment.
Life can be resumed as per usual after the healing process of a wisdom tooth extraction is complete. Worry about future pain, crowding or dental emergencies which could result from the wisdom tooth will be eliminated.
Feel free to contact us at any time regarding any questions and concerns surrounding wisdom teeth and we will be happy to help, otherwise do not hesitate to consult with your dentist at your next dental visit.