Getting wisdom teeth removed early can be a wise move indeed - with persistent pain, teeth alignment issues, damage to gums and the potential of infection just some reasons as to why people may need to undergo a wisdom teeth removal procedure.
These wisdom teeth, otherwise known as third molars, erupt in the back four corners of the mouth, usually between the young adult ages of 17 to 21.
There can be complications with wisdom teeth, where some can fail to fully come through the gum bed, causing the teeth to become impacted or create other problems with alignment.
According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA) the 'impaction' of wisdom teeth may be due to soft tissues such as gums or hard tissues such as other teeth or bone, in which case your dentist may advise you to have them removed as they will not grow into a "position that allows them to be functional teeth".
Wisdom teeth are classified as molars, which are predominantly used for chewing. Since these particular molars are found furthest in the back of the mouth, they are also known as “third molars” – most people have first, second and third molars. They typically come in behind the 2nd molars, provided there is enough room in the person’s jaw to accommodate them.
Individuals generally develop four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of the mouth. When all four of the “third molars” develop normally alongside the rest of your teeth and they are perfectly healthy, they are considered an asset to your mouth. More often than not, wisdom teeth either fail to emerge into their expected position or they emerge at an awkward angle. The term “impaction” is used to describe a tooth that does not fully emerge either due to insufficient space in the jaw or improper angulation.
Dentists categorise the description of the impaction of the wisdom teeth in two ways: (1) direction of the impaction and (2) degree of the impaction.
Direction of the impaction
Degree of the impaction
If the wisdom tooth has erupted out of the jawbone but still covered by the gum, it is known as a Soft Tissue Impaction. If the tooth has partially erupted out of the jawbone below the gum line, it is called a Partial Bony Impaction. A Complete Bony Impaction refers to a wisdom tooth that is totally covered by the jawbone and gum.
Although it is possible to retain one’s wisdom teeth – especially for people with larger jaws that provide enough room for the teeth to erupt properly in the mouth, it is uncommon for most people.
In fact, delay or postponement of a wisdom teeth removal can sometimes cause problems for people who have them. Partial eruption of impacted wisdom teeth often occurs in patients aged between 45-55. Wisdom teeth removal at this age could cause bigger problems as not only would the third molars become more difficult to extract, a longer healing period would be necessary.
A dentist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon will determine which wisdom teeth need to be removed using x-rays. This will also indicate which ones will also be functional. A dentist may need to only cut away some soft tissue to allow the tooth to erupt properly, allowing the wisdom tooth to be functional.
If the whole tooth needs to be extracted, some surrounding bone may need to be cut, and if the tooth extracted was large, the socket may need stitches to help with the healing.
Many people suffer from dental phobia. However, dental phobia exists on a continuum with pain thresholds ranging from zero to moderate to high. As such, sedation dentistry cannot be a “one size fits all” therapy. That is why Face Value Dental offers a variety of sedation techniques that caters to your individual needs. Our overriding goal is to provide the patient with a comfortable treatment experience free of anxiety.
It is not uncommon for patients to opt for sedation dentistry when going for a wisdom teeth removal, particularly for multiple extractions. If the thought of visiting the dentist makes you anxious or you would like to feel more relaxed during the removal procedure, you may wish to consider one of the following options we offer at the clinic:
Better known as “happy gas”, laughing gas induces feelings of relaxation when inhaled via a comfortable mask. A great benefit of this type of sedation is that the sedation effects stop upon removal of the mask, and the patient can immediately return to work.
As the effects take some time to work, the process involves patient taking an anti-anxiety pill about an hour prior to the procedure. Although the patient remains conscious – and will still be able to communicate with the dentist – he or she is in a relaxed and comfortable state, free of anxiety.
This intravenously administered sedation puts the patient in a “dream-like” state with no recollection of the procedure. Like oral sedation, the patient remains conscious and anxiety-free during treatment.
This is only recommended for more complex wisdom teeth extractions or where multiple procedures are prescribed in a single appointment.
Our goal is for your healing process after an extraction to be as comfortable as possible. The removal of teeth is a surgical procedure, and post-operative care is imperative.
The tooth area can feel swollen and tender, so a dentist will offer some advice on how to care for it after surgery.
Painkillers such as paracetamol may be taken if required, on the advice of a dental practitioner.
A day after the procedure (24 hours) regularly holding a mouthful of warm salty water may be required after eating meals, and make sure to eat soft foods for a few days following surgery.
It's also recommended that after surgery, patients refrain from smoking for 48 hours and avoid drinking alcohol.
Here are some important tips that will benefit your recovery process after your surgery:
Take a few days off from work or school before returning to your normal routine.
If your dentist prescribed an antibiotic course after the extraction, you would need to complete the entire course for it to be effective. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to keep post-removal infections at bay.
You should expect some swelling after the procedure. Depending on the complexity of the case, the swelling may dramatically increase in size within the first 48 hours after the surgery. You may apply cold compress, along with anti-inflammatory medication – as prescribed by your dentist – to relieve the pain.
Do not eat solid foods too soon after the procedure. For several days to a week following the surgery, take only liquids or semi-solids, before moving back to your normal diet in a gradual fashion. The reason for this is that you do not want to disrupt the protective blood clots that have formed over your wounds and cause an infection.
The same warning applies to putting objects in your mouth. If you are not careful, the solid object, including edible and non-edible ones, can knock out the blood clots by accident. Common mistakes of wisdom teeth patients include smoking and using drinking straws. The sucking action, inherent with using these things, has been known to disturb the blood clots. Retaining the blood clots in the socket after the extraction of a tooth is important as it limits the likelihood of a painful condition known as a “dry socket.”
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Some people choose to wait until their wisdom teeth are causing them trouble, but it's important to get the issue addressed early as the ADA states that sometimes damage is done "without any warning".
"As a rule, your wisdom teeth will get more difficult to remove the older you are," the ADA noted.
An article published in the Australian Dental Journal in November 2009 outlined some guidelines for wisdom teeth removal associated with pathology, which include:
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Find out more about the estimated cost of extractions here.
Book your wisdom tooth removal consultation with Face Value Dental. Offer includes a limited examination and OPG (full mouth) x-ray. (Valued up to $182)
*Terms and conditions: This offer must be mentioned upon booking your appointment with Face Value Dental. Expires on 1st October 2019. Offer includes 1 x clinical examination #013 and OPG radiograph #037. Total cost for wisdom tooth removal varies, depending on a patient’s individual requirements and may range from $232 to $555 per tooth. Offer is non-transferable and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Prices are subject to change. If, at the dentist’s clinical discretion, new x-rays or impressions are required due to a time lapse between an initial consultation and treatment commencement date, these will be provided at no additional cost. Please contact your health insurance provider for rebate information. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Dental Corporation ABN 92 124 730 874.
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