Removal of wisdom teeth
People having wisdom teeth removed is one of the most common oral surgery procedures performed in the UK. Your wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to a erupt and are situated at the back of your mouth as tooth number 8 on each side. A typical person will have the following teeth on each side:
- central incisor
- natural incisor
- first premolar
- second premolar
- first molar
- second molar
- wisdom tooth
Not everyone has the molars or wisdom teeth and not everyone has problems with them, many people do however. Your wisdom teeth will usually erupt in your late teens or early 20s and will be tooth number 29, 30, 31 and 32, assuming that you have 4 wisdom teeth as not everyone does.
Wisdom teeth can often grow in at an angle (impacted) and /or partially erupt, this is why they are often removed.
How Do I Know if I Have Wisdom Teeth?
If your wisdom teeth have erupted and assuming that you have all of your natural teeth, all you need to do is simply count from the central incisor. Your wisdom teeth will be the eighth tooth.
If you want to know whether you have erupted wisdom teeth then only a dental x-ray will be able to tell you sure. This is when you need to visit your dentist to find out. Sometimes wisdom teeth are extracted before they cause any pain or problem, this is because your dentist is able to tell by the way the teeth lie in your mouth whether any future problems can result. If the wisdom teeth are impacted they may put undue pressure on surrounding teeth causing them to twist and rotate. Twisted or rotated teeth are more difficult to clean and so it’s important to try and keep your teeth as straight as possible.
Having wisdom teeth removed whilst you are young is also advantageous as you tend to heal quicker.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
People often ask " How easy is it to remove wisdom teeth?" – this all depends upon your dental anatomy, where your wisdom teeth are, how far they have erupted and at what stage of development they are. If you wisdom tooth has come through fully then extraction can be as simple as any other tooth.
If the tooth is hidden underneath the gum and is not fully erupted then we may need to perform a surgical extraction. We also often extract wisdom teeth in sections, rather than try to remove it in one go. This dissection of the tooth in your mouth ensures complete extraction and the cleanest technique.
Wisdom Teeth Symptoms
Many people have wisdom teeth which cause no problems at all but if you think you may have problematic 3rd molars then here are some symptoms to watch out for:
- Pain or jaw stiffness near an impacted tooth.
- Pain or irritation from a tooth coming in at an awkward angle and rubbing against your cheek, tongue, or top or bottom of your mouth.
- An infected swelling in the flap of gum tissue that has formed on top of an impacted tooth that has broken partway through the gum.
- Crowding of other teeth
- Tooth decay or gum disease if there isn’t enough room to properly clean your wisdom tooth and nearby teeth.
Most problems with wisdom teeth affect people between the ages of 15 and 25. People older than 30 usually don’t have problems that require their wisdom teeth to be removed.
How to reduce pain from wisdom teeth
Ultimately if you have pain from wisdom teeth then you will need to take some time to visit your local dentist. However here are a few tips to reduce and alleviate pain if you are at home.
- Ice can help to numb the area if it is applied carefully where you have pain.
- Ibuprofen can also help to reduce local pain.
- Salt water mouth rinse can also be effective. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of salt into 230ml of warm water and rinse around your mouth. This can help to dislodge pieces of food that are trapped in and around your teeth and gums.
- Ensure that you clean your teeth properly as trapped food can exacerbate the pain from the wisdom tooth and also increase your chance of developing an infection.
“Your Complete Guide to Dental
Dr Kala Jones
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Procedure
There is great variation in the difficulty of removing wisdom teeth.
The procedure can be carried out under local anaesthesia (injection in the gum to numb the area). For patients that are anxious dental sedation is sometimes used or even referral to a specialist oral surgery centre where a general anaesthetic can also be administered.
Your surgeon will discuss with you which method is most appropriate. The degree of difficulty of the surgery, any underlying medical conditions and other personal circumstances will be taken into account when choosing the method. The procedure to remove a wisdom tooth can involve an incision (cut) in the gum close to the tooth.
Sometimes some jaw bone around the tooth is removed with the drill, and the procedure can be made easier by sectioning (cutting up) the tooth into smaller pieces.
Wisdom Tooth Removal Recovery
There is a great variation in the sensation experienced after surgery, for many there may be mild discomfort while others may experience a greater degree of discomfort or pain and this also depends on the difficulty of the surgery, the average recovery time is 5 to 7 days. Swelling is common and tends to be at a maximum on the second and third day after surgery, reducing over about a week.
Mouth opening is likely to be restricted and a semisolid diet will be required over the first few days. Expect some pain from the operation site that should be helped by painkillers. Bruising of the face and upper neck occasionally occurs.
Possible complications of wisdom tooth removal
Removal of wisdom teeth is a very safe and common operation but there is some risk associated with any procedure. Most bleeding will stop shortly (within half an hour) of the operation finishing. Bloodstained saliva may be noticed for a day or two.
More persistent bleeding may occur which should be dealt with by your surgeon. Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed after the operation, even if they have infection of the tooth socket occasionally occurs. The nerve which gives sensation to the lower lip and chin and tongue are very close to the lower wisdom teeth and can be prone to bruising. This can cause numbness or tingling sensation in the lip and chin.
The Dental Centre London are a dental practice in Euston. They have a specialist oral surgeon, Dr Jill McLoughlin that visits the practice to undertake simple and complex dental extractions, removal of wisdom teeth, orthodontic extractions, removal of retained roots and exposure & bonding of unerupted teeth for orthodontics. For more information about oral surgery procedures please request an appointment online.