Wisdom teeth removal is one of the most common dental procedures carried out in the UK. Wisdom teeth are the last teeth that arrive in the mouth, typically between the ages of 17 to 22. The teeth grow at the back of your gums and most people have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of a quadrant. By the time the teeth emerge from the gums, the other 28 teeth in your mouth are already in place. Therefore, there may not be enough space for your wisdom teeth to erupt into your mouth. Due to this, the wisdom teeth may grow at an angle and get stuck in the gums, resulting in impaction.
At times, surgery may be needed, especially if wisdom teeth extraction is planned for all 4 teeth at the same time or if there is a high risk of complications. In case of an infection, surgery may have to be delayed until the infection clears up. You’ll be asked to take antibiotics to heal the infection.
When to see a dentist
Make an appointment with a dentist if you experience severe pain and discomfort or pain that affects your daily life. Your dentist will check your teeth and determine whether they have to be extracted.
If the dentist feels that wisdom teeth removal is needed, he or she will first carry out an X-ray to check the position of your teeth.
Reasons for extraction of wisdom teeth
If your wisdom teeth are impacted but do not cause any pain or other problems, you may not have to remove them.
However, there are times when wisdom teeth are impacted or do not completely break through the gums. This can lead to dental problems. Food and bacteria may accumulate around the edge of the tooth, causing plaque build-up and problems such as:
Tooth decay occurs when plaque breaks down the surface of the tooth. When it becomes more advanced, it causes cavities in the tooth that may even affect surrounding teeth.
Gum disease (Gingivitis)
Gum disease occurs when the plaque releases toxins that irritate the gums and make them swollen and painful. It can also affect the jaw bone and the surrounding teeth.
This occurs when pus accumulates the tooth or surrounding tissue as a result of an infection.
Plaque may cause an infection of the soft tissue surrounding the tooth, thus leading to pericoronitis.
Occasionally, a wisdom tooth that does not break through the gum may develop a fluid-filled swelling, also called a cyst.
Most of these problems are bacterial and can be treated with good oral hygiene, antibacterial mouthwashes or antibiotics prescribed by your dentist. Therefore, wisdom teeth removal is only recommended when no other treatment is effective in alleviating symptoms.
Wisdom teeth removal procedure
Your wisdom tooth will be extracted by a dentist or a specialist surgeon referred to you by one for hospital treatment. Prior to the procedure, you’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the painful tooth area. You may feel some pressure before the tooth is removed, but there won’t be any pain. The pressure is mainly felt because the dentist or oral surgeon has to widen the tooth socket by rocking the wisdom tooth back and forth.
In some cases, the oral surgeon may have to make a small incision in your gum or cut the tooth into smaller fragments to aid in its removal. The procedure may take anywhere around a few minutes to 20 minutes or longer. Following the removal, you may experience discomfort, bleeding and swelling. The discomfort may worsen for the first three days but it will only last for up to two weeks.