Wisdom teeth removal: how does surgery work?
Wisdom teeth are the teeth at the very back of the mouth that usually come through in your late teenage years. Sometimes if there isn’t enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to come through properly these teeth can cause problems and may have to be removed.
How do I know if I need my wisdom teeth removed?
Most people have four wisdom teeth, however not everyone develops these teeth. Wisdom teeth only need to be removed if they cause problems in your mouth. Not every person needs to have their wisdom teeth removed and you may only experience problems with one or two of your teeth.
Wisdom teeth can cause mouth pain when they initially come through your gums. However, if your teeth have already come through and are still causing pain or bite problems it may be time to have them removed.
Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?
Wisdom teeth need to be removed when they are impacting other teeth. There may be a lack of space in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to come through and this can cause them to butt up against other teeth.
Your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal if you are experiencing any of these problems;
- Tooth decay in your wisdom teeth
- An abscess in the tooth or surrounding tissue
- Periodontal diseases like pericoronitis
- An infection in the bone
- Cysts or tumors near your wisdom tooth
- Obstruction of other teeth and impaction
How is wisdom tooth removal surgery performed?
Wisdom teeth removal can be straightforward or more complex depending on the position of your teeth. Most wisdom teeth surgery can be performed by a dentist, although occasionally it may be recommended that you see a specialist dental surgeon at another clinic or even hospital.
Wisdom teeth surgery is usually performed with the patient under local anesthetic, to numb the tooth and surrounding area.
If the wisdom tooth has not come through the gum at all, a small incision will be made into the gum so the dentist can access the tooth. The tooth may also be broken up to make the removal below the gum easier.
During the procedure you will feel movement and pressure of the tooth. The dentist or oral surgeon will need to widen the tooth socket to remove the tooth. This is usually done by rocking the tooth back and forth.
What is the best age to remove wisdom teeth?
There’s no “right age” to have your wisdom teeth removed. Most people get their wisdom teeth between their late teens and early twenties. However there is an advantage to getting wisdom teeth removed at a younger age, as the recovery process is faster in younger patients.
Only one of my wisdom teeth is causing problems. Do I need all four removed?
No. It is not necessary to remove perfectly healthy wisdom teeth. A dentist should only recommend removing wisdom teeth if they are currently causing problems or are likely to cause problems in the future.
Will removing wisdom teeth cause any long-term problems?
No. Removing wisdom teeth does not cause long-term problems. Instead, you are likely to avoid long term problems with your teeth and gums by having problematic teeth removed.
What to expect post-wisdom teeth surgery?
It can take up to two weeks to fully recover from wisdom teeth removal surgery. In any case, you should take a couple of days off work and scheduled activities to recover at a minimum. After surgery you may experience:
- Swelling of the mouth and cheeks which should improve gradually over time. Pressing a cold compress to your face can help reduce the swelling.
- Mild and visible bruising of your cheeks. The bruising may be visible for two weeks.
- Stiffness and soreness in your mouth and jaw which should wear off in a week to ten days.
- Pain in the mouth, which may be worse if the extraction was more difficult.
- Tingling or numbness in the face, lips or tongue. Although this is not very common.
While it is normal to experience some bleeding and pain after surgery, you should report severe pain or discomfort post-surgery to your dentist.
What is the post-surgical care for recovering from wisdom teeth surgery?
Here are some things you can do to feel more comfortable and help recover faster after having your wisdom teeth removed:
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with the pain of removal
- Avoid exercise or strenuous activity for a few days after surgery
- Use an extra pillow for support for the first few nights after surgery
- Avoid rinsing, spitting, hot drinks or other things that can dislodge blood clots that form in the empty tooth socket
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol for 24 hours after surgery
- Eat soft or liquid foods and try to avoid using the teeth near your removed wisdom tooth to chew
- Rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash after 24 hours. Repeat regularly over the next couple of days
Can I work or drive after surgery?
It is recommended that you take a few days off work after surgery to recover. You can drive after the surgery if local anesthetic was used.
If general anesthetic was used, avoid driving for at least 48 hours after your surgery.
Book an appointment to get your wisdom teeth checked
The best way to know if you need your wisdom teeth removed is to book an appointment with a dentist. At Gentle Dental, we recommend booking a general appointment, and we will assess your wisdom teeth to see if they need to be removed.
During this time, we can give you a price estimation and guide you through the whole process, including how best to manage your recovery. Book your appointment here.