Wisdom teeth are basically third molars the erupt from 18 to 22 years of age. Because they erupt so much later in life the amount of space can vary from a variety of reasons. Research suggests that the softer diet of modern man provides less stimulation to the jaws which end up being smaller than in the past. They think that this leads to teeth not having enough space to erupt properly!
When do we need to take wisdom teeth out?
The biggest reason why one would take wisdom teeth out is that they are half way through, making it very difficult to clean. Food then accumulates around it and goes bad, which can lead to an infection. This can be quite dramatic some times with the face swelling up! Another big reason why we take wisdom teeth out is because it is in such an angle that the patient isn’t able to clean the tooth and sometimes this leads to decay in the wisdom tooth or worse still in the tooth in front of it. Other reasons why we might need to take wisdom teeth out might be because there is a cyst associated with it or if there is severe gum disease with the tooth.
Do we need to take every wisdom tooth out then?
Definitely not! Every case should be assessed individually and there are often many times where wisdom teeth can be left in the mouth and monitored for any changes. However it is very important to see a dentist regarding this as wisdom teeth pain can be quite dramatic and we want to avoid letting things go to that stage.
Is there a best age to take the teeth out?
I normally tell patients that the younger they are the less surgically complex things are going to be. Patients also tend to heal a lot better when they are younger – I’ve had 17 year olds go shopping the next day after having all their wisdom teeth out.
Can I have wisdom teeth removed in the chair?
Certainly! We do lots of wisdom teeth removal in the chair and it is a great way to avoid the risks associated with General Anesthesia and the costs associated with a hospital stay. If you feel very nervous we are also able to prescribe some anti anxiety medication to help you relax. We also have headphones with Netflix on a ceiling to help distract you from what’s happening.
What is the recovery time like?
It really depends on the difficulty of the procedure and the age of the patient. If the tooth is very impacted and it is a very involved procedure, I normally tell patients it can take up to a week for things to settle. The other big one is the age of the patient – the younger you are the better you tend to heal.
Are there any risks with the procedure?
There are risks with any surgical procedure. There are many vital structures in the area and your dentist should be able to go through the specific risks of damaging these structures. We also have equipment such as 3D CT scanners in house which allows us to visualise these structures easily, allowing us to perform the procedures as safely as possible.
Can a general dentist perform wisdom teeth extractions?
Wisdom teeth extractions can be very complex and each dentist has a comfort level that they are happy to perform. We do a lot of wisdom teeth surgery so are very comfortable taking on the vast majority of cases effectively but there will still be cases where we refer to a specialist oral surgeon to undertake the procedure and your dentist would be the best person to advise you on what’s the most appropriate route.