Wisdom teeth removal involves removing one or more of the third molars at the back of your mouth. This may require a surgical procedure. The wisdom teeth are the last four teeth (molars) at the back of the mouth for grinding food. They are usually the last teeth to come through.
Most people have them by their mid-twenties, but they come earlier or later in some people. Sometimes, wisdom teeth do not come through properly, leaving them impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause various problems like infection, swelling and pain. Removing these wisdom teeth can ease the symptoms.
Wisdom teeth do not always need removal. They often erupt normally in many people and cause no problems. However, because wisdom teeth are the last set to come through, there often isn't enough space in the mouth to allow them to grow properly.
Wisdom teeth can grow at an angle or get partially stuck in the gums and the term for this is impacted wisdom teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth may not need removal if they are not causing symptoms.
Sometimes, the positioning of impacted wisdom teeth makes it easy for bacteria and food to get trapped around the gum. This may cause sore or swollen gums (pericoronitis), infection and tooth decay. If you have any problems, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend removing the impacted tooth.
Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, usually done in the late teens or twenties when the wisdom teeth erupts.
The dentist or orthodontist will take an x-ray of your mouth to know the tooth's exact position in the gum. A decision is then made regarding the complexity of the extraction. A straightforward wisdom tooth extraction can be carried out by your general dentist. A more complex extraction will need to be carried out by an oral surgeon or a maxillofacial surgeon.
If the wisdom tooth removal is considered to be straightforward then the procedure can be done then visiting an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to perform the procedure in a hospital under general anaesthesia would be more appropriate.
Your oral surgeon will discuss the procedure before you proceed, including if the wisdom teeth removal can cause pain. If unsure about the procedure, ask for more information. Being informed can help you feel at ease and will ensure that you fully consent to the procedure.
If your wisdom teeth do not cause any problems, even if they are impacted, taking them out isn't necessary. If your dentist thinks there is a high risk of the surrounding nerves getting damaged, they may recommend a coronectomy. This procedure involves removing the tooth's crown while some root remains in place. It can help reduce the risk of nerves around the tooth getting damaged.
The wisdom teeth removal procedure varies based on how difficult it is to remove the tooth. The upper wisdom teeth are usually easier to remove than their lower counterparts.
If you have tooth removal at the dental practice, it will be under local anaesthesia. The local anaesthetic blocks the pain from your gums while you remain awake throughout the wisdom teeth removal. If you have dental anxiety, some dentists may be able to offer you sedation and local anaesthesia to help you relax.
If the wisdom teeth removal is at the hospital, it may be under general anaesthesia, so you will be asleep throughout the procedure. After the anaesthetic becomes effective, the oral surgeon or dentist will use special tools to gradually remove the tooth, cutting into the gums if necessary. If the surgeon or dentist needs to cut into the gums, they may use dissolving stitches to close the wound.
What will happen after your wisdom teeth removal depends on the type of anaesthesia administered during the procedure. If you had sedation or general anaesthesia, ensure you have someone to take you home and ask the person to stay with you for about a day until the anaesthetic wears off.
If you had local anaesthesia, it might take hours for the feeling to return to your jaw and face. Be careful not to knock or bump the area. Avoid eating or drinking anything hot in the first six hours after your teeth removal. You may feel discomfort as the anaesthetic wears offer, but this is controllable with pain relief as needed.
Your oral surgeon or dentist will advise you about caring for your teeth and gums before going home. You may be given mouthwash and painkillers to use at home. The oral surgeon or dentist may also prescribe antibiotics if you show signs of an infection when your tooth is removed.
You can remove your teeth within the NHS at a cost if it is causing discomfort or pain. Some people are exempt from dental charges, like pregnant women or those who receive income support or certain benefits.
The cost of private tooth removal varies widely, depending on the procedure's complexity and the practice.
You may feel discomfort, pain and swelling for a few days after wisdom teeth removal. This may worsen in the first few days, but over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol can help to control the pain.
You may also feel stiffness and swelling in your jaw for a few days. This may make it difficult to open your mouth. You can put an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the area to reduce the discomfort.
Rinsing out your mouth will help keep your wound clean and help it heal. Ensure you rinse your mouth gently in the first 24 hours. If you rinse your mouth forcefully, the blood clots around the wound can get dislodged, causing bleeding. Rinse your mouth after eating with salt water or an antimicrobial mouthwash to help remove food particles.
Brush your teeth usually, gradually getting closer to the wound over a few days. After 3 – 4 days, gently brush away any dissolving stitches. If your wound starts bleeding after the procedure, bite down on a folded handkerchief or gauze for five minutes.
Avoid taking very cold or hot food if the wound is bleeding, as this can make the bleeding start again.
Avoid hot food or drinks for the first few hours after the tooth removal. Stick to liquid or soft foods in the first couple of days. You can gradually resume eating your usual diet but start chewing on the areas far from the healing area. Avoid alcohol or cold or hot drinks in the first 24 hours.
Most people do not have any of these problems after removing their wisdom teeth. Ensure you seek medical advice if you still experience these symptoms after 2 – 3 days.
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