What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are your third molars found at the end of each arch in your jaw. They are technically a vestigial remnant of a time when humans had larger jawbones and a diet that consisted of highly fibrous matter that required extensive crushing and chewing.
They typically erupt in the late teens and early twenties, but in some cases, wisdom teeth are congenitally absent and do not emerge at all. Because they are the last teeth to erupt when your mouth already has a full set of teeth, wisdom teeth are prone to erupting improperly, which can cause further health issues.
Why Do I Need Wisdom Teeth Surgery?
When wisdom teeth fail to erupt fully, or they emerge horizontally or at an angle to the surrounding teeth, they are considered impacted.
An impacted wisdom tooth is highly susceptible to decay and infection as the position of the tooth hinders proper oral hygiene. This can lead to a build-up of food particles, and subsequently bacteria, which results in a buildup of plaque and tooth decay.
An impacted wisdom tooth almost always results in tooth crowding and misalignment, but it can also make you more susceptible to gum disease and cysts.
Gum diseases often associated with impacted wisdom teeth include gingivitis, gum inflammation due to excess plaque, and pericoronitis, folded gum tissue that traps food particles and debris. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs on the wisdom tooth or jaw. If infected, cysts become abscesses and can damage the tooth root, jawbone tissue, and surrounding nerves.
The Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure
Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure. There are two types of wisdom tooth removal: simple and complex.
Simple Tooth Extraction
Simple wisdom teeth surgery is recommended as a preventative measure to avoid any future health complications resulting from wisdom tooth eruption.
Simple tooth extraction is reserved for wisdom teeth that have partially or completely erupted above the gum line at the correct angle. This procedure has less risk of complications and faster recovery time.
The procedure can be performed in a dentist’s chair with local anesthetic or under twilight sedation for anxious patients.
A specialized tool called a dental elevator is used to loosen the wisdom tooth from the socket; the dentist then uses forceps to remove the tooth. The area is packed with medical gauze to prevent excess bleeding and help a clot form to seal the socket.
Complex Tooth Extraction
A complex wisdom tooth extraction is required for wisdom teeth that are impacted. It requires general anesthesia and an experienced maxillofacial surgeon who should perform the surgery at a dental hospital.
The surgeon makes an incision in the gum tissue to expose the tooth, which may need to be sectioned into smaller pieces to facilitate easier removal after the tooth has been loosened from the connective tissue. Stitches are sometimes used to close the gum after surgery.
Patients undergoing complex wisdom teeth surgery typically need a longer recovery and can experience greater levels of discomfort following the procedure. You can minimize the discomfort by following your dentist’s surgical aftercare instructions.
Wisdom Teeth Surgery Aftercare
As you may have stitches or an open socket after surgery, it is vital that you follow the recommended post-surgery instructions to support the healing process.
You can gently remove the gauze pad around an hour after your surgery, but it is important to limit your activities for the next 2-3 days to help your mouth heal, regardless of whether you have had a simple or complex extraction.
You can take over-the-counter medications to reduce discomfort. To minimize swelling, place a cold pack against the side of your face for 15-minute intervals.
If you have not been prescribed antibiotics, you can help avoid infection by gently rinsing your mouth with a solution of warm water and salt. Avoid drinking through a straw or smoking, as the negative pressure created inside your mouth can dislodge the blood clot and sometimes cause a painful secondary condition called dry socket.
If you experience dizziness, fever, excessive bleeding, or a foul taste in your mouth, contact your dentist immediately; this could indicate an infection.
Get Relief from Wisdom Tooth Pain with Sydney Dental Group
Simple wisdom tooth surgery is a fast and easy procedure that can help to prevent your wisdom teeth from causing severe health complications in the future.
If you are experiencing discomfort, tenderness or bleeding around your back molars, call us on (02) 9158 6135 to book an appointment for a consultation. Our Baulkham Hills dentists will work with you to determine the best treatment plan to remove your wisdom tooth and give you a happy, healthy smile.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.