Wisdom tooth problems are extremely common. Wisdom teeth grow at the back of your gums and are the last teeth to come through. Most people have four wisdom teeth – one in each corner.Wisdom teeth usually grow through the gum during the late teens or early twenties. By this time, the other 28 adult teeth are usually in place, so there isn’t always enough room in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to grow properly. Because of the lack of space, the wisdom teeth can sometimes emerge at an angle or get stuck and only partially emerge. Wisdom teeth that grow through like this are known as impacted.
When to see a dentist?
You should make an appointment to see us if you’re experiencing severe pain or discomfort from your wisdom teeth. We will check your teeth and advise you on whether they need to be removed. If we think that this may be the case we’ll usually carry out an x-ray of your mouth. This gives them a clearer view of the position of your teeth. We often take full mouth (OPG) x-rays to help assess these problems. This can be done here at Swords Dental
Why are wisdom teeth removed?
Your wisdom teeth don’t usually need to be removed if they’re impacted but aren’t causing any problems. This is because there’s no proven benefit of doing this and it carries the risk of complications. Sometimes, wisdom teeth that have become impacted or haven’t fully broken through the surface of the gum can cause dental problems. Food and bacteria can get trapped around the edge of the wisdom teeth, causing a build-up of plaque, which can lead to:
- Tooth Decay (dental caries) – this develops when plaque begins to break down the surface of your tooth. When tooth decay becomes more advanced, it leaves holes (cavities) in the tooth, which can affect the surrounding teeth.
- Gum Disease (also called gingivitis or periodontal disease) – this occurs when plaque releases toxins that irritate your gums, making them red, swollen and painful. Gum disease can also affect the surrounding teeth and the bone around the wisdom teeth.
- Pericoronitis – when plaque causes an infection of the soft tissue that surrounds the tooth.
- Abscess – when pus collects in your wisdom teeth or the surrounding tissue due to a bacterial infection.
Many of these problems can be treated with treatment such as antibiotics and a mouthwash (such as Corsodyl), so removing your wisdom teeth is only recommended when other treatment hasn’t worked.
How wisdom teeth are removed
We may decide remove your wisdom teeth at the practice or refer you to a specialist surgeon. We have a specialist oral surgeon here at the practice on Thursdays, Dr Eimear McHugh. She has the option of removing the tooth in the standard way using local anaesthetic or using an intravenous sedation in more complicated cases. We can also arrange a general anaesthetic in a hospital, if necessary.
Before the procedure, you’ll usually be given an injection to numb the area around the tooth. You’ll feel some pressure just before the tooth is removed, to widen the tooth socket by rocking the tooth back and forth. In some cases a cut may be needed in your gum, and the tooth may need to be cut into smaller pieces before it’s removed. The time it takes to remove the tooth will vary. Some procedures only take a few minutes, whereas others can take 20 minutes or longer.
After your wisdom teeth have been removed, you may experience swelling and discomfort, both on the inside and outside of your mouth. This is usually worse for the first three days, but it can last for up to two weeks. We will recommend or prescribe painkillers to help with this.
As with all surgery, there are risks associated with removing a wisdom tooth. These include infection or delayed healing, both of which are more likely if you smoke during your recovery.
Another possible complication is “dry socket”, which is a dull, aching sensation in your gum or jaw, and sometimes a bad smell or taste coming from the empty tooth socket. Dry socket is more likely if you don’t follow the after-care instructions.
There’s also a small risk of nerve damage, which can cause pain or a tingling sensation and numbness in the tongue, lower lip, chin, teeth and gums. This is usually temporary, but can be permanent in some rare cases. We will assess this risk in detail prior to planning the procedure, to help ensure this risk is minimal.
If you need an appointment you can contact us at:
www.swords-dental.ie Tel 8401001