Wisdom teeth surgery used to be almost a rite of passage—but times have changed, and far fewer wisdom teeth are removed now than in the past. Generally, if your wisdom teeth are not causing any problems, there is no real reason to have them taken out. However, this does not mean they should not be monitored regularly by your dentist. Wisdom teeth removal may still be a necessary procedure later in life.
Usually, the last adult teeth to erupt, wisdom teeth, are the third molars that emerge at the ends of both rows of teeth. Most people have four—two on the top and two on the bottom.
When is wisdom teeth surgery necessary?
You may need to consider wisdom teeth removal surgery if your dental or oral health is affected by:
1. Pain or sensitivity
Pain or sensitivity in the back of your mouth may be a sign that your wisdom teeth are impacted (when there is not enough room for the teeth to emerge). They may then become stuck or start to appear at an angle.
2. Damage to other teeth
If your other permanent teeth are already in position, the emergence of a wisdom tooth can cause damage to existing teeth or force them to move out of place.
3. Inflamed gums
Inflamed gums can also be a symptom of impacted wisdom teeth.
4. Damage to the jaw
Wisdom teeth can cause malocclusion (crooked teeth), which results in a poor bite. You may start to hold the jaw at an abnormal angle, placing undue stress on the joints and muscles of the jaw. This could contribute to the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD), characterized by pain and clicking noises in the jaw joints.
5. Sinus problems
The nose and mouth are intricately connected. Consequently, it is not surprising that impacted wisdom teeth can affect the sinuses by causing pressure, congestion and pain.
Dentists recommend wisdom teeth surgery in all these situations.
Leaving the wisdom teeth alone could be more problematic to your oral health than taking them out.
How is wisdom teeth removal surgery performed?
Firstly, dentists will take X-rays to show the position of the tooth and roots. Next, they will decide on the most appropriate method of anaesthesia based on the complexity of the procedure and your comfort level.
A dentist will complete most wisdom teeth removal procedures under local anaesthetic. A numbing injection is given in the gums surrounding the tooth. You will be awake through the process, and while you may feel pressure and movement, it should be relatively painless.
Sedation anaesthesia is another option that can be given in combination with local anaesthesia. This may be administered via a tablet or through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. Often referred to as conscious sedation, you will be awake throughout the procedure. Most people have no recollection of the process with this form of sedation and assume they were asleep.
In complex situations, a general anaesthetic may be advised. You will be unconscious and require an anaesthetist to monitor your breathing, temperature and other signs.
Once your dentist or oral surgeon has administered the anaesthesia, surgery begins. During the procedure, they:
- Expose the tooth and bone with an incision into the gum
- Divide the tooth if it is necessary to remove it into smaller pieces
- Remove the tooth
- Clear debris from around the incision site
- Clean the area
- Stitches the wound, if necessary
- Applies a gauze pad over the extraction site
What is recovery like after wisdom teeth surgery?
Recovery speed after wisdom teeth removal will be influenced by several factors, including how complex the extraction was, as well as your body’s ability to heal. You should be prepared to take things gently for a day or two to avoid complications.
Immediately following wisdom teeth removal surgery, you are likely to experience bleeding from the extraction site. Biting down gently on a wad of gauze will stem the bleeding and encourage the formation of a blood clot over the wound, which will help to protect the site from infection. Modifying your diet with soft foods that don’t require chewing will help with mouth tenderness.
Over-the-counter pain medication will alleviate any discomfort. Applying regular ice packs to your face over the extraction site can help reduce swelling following wisdom teeth surgery.
It will help if you take care to keep the mouth clean after wisdom teeth removal surgery. Gently rinsing the mouth with a saltwater solution can help to eliminate dental bacteria if brushing and flossing are difficult. The saltwater also increases the pH levels in the mouth, which contributes to the healing process. You should return to your normal routine around three days after wisdom teeth surgery. However, it may take up to 10 days for swelling and bruising to subside entirely.
If you need further advice about wisdom teeth surgery, contact us at Southport Park Family Dental. Schedule an appointment with a dentist to find out more about wisdom teeth removal.
Call us on (07) 5655 7688 or book online today!
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.