Wisdom teeth is the colloquial name given to the third and final set of molars, those at the very back of your mouth. They are the last teeth to emerge, and so the name implies that, once you get your wisdom teeth, you are bound to be older and wiser.
However, often these teeth come with some complications and will need to be removed.
Why Should I Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth can cause several problems, including crowding, impaction and growing in abnormal angles, causing pain and increasing the risk of decay in surrounding teeth. There is also a chance of infection and bone loss as wisdom teeth grow.
The aim of removing wisdom teeth is to minimise pain and to protect your other teeth. Removing wisdom teeth can:
- Resolve symptoms of pain and discomfort
- Can help with the overcrowding of teeth
- Prevent misalignment and decay
- It can help to reduce the chance of cysts and bone loss
What Happens During A Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
Before the extraction, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination and take X-rays of your mouth to assess the position and condition of your wisdom teeth. This helps the team to determine the best approach for the extraction.
On the day of the extraction, the dentist will ensure your comfort by administering local anaesthesia. This numbs the area around the tooth or teeth to be extracted, so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. In some cases, if multiple wisdom teeth are being removed or if they are impacted, your dentist may recommend general anaesthesia or sedation to make you more relaxed and comfortable throughout the procedure.
Once you are comfortable and the anesthesia has taken effect, the dentist will begin the extraction. If the wisdom tooth has fully erupted and is visible in your mouth, it can be removed with forceps in a straightforward process.
However, if the tooth is impacted (partially or fully covered by gum tissue or bone), a small incision may be made in the gum to access and remove the tooth. In some cases, the tooth may need to be divided into smaller pieces for easier extraction.
After the tooth is removed, the dentist may place stitches to help with the healing process. Gauze pads will be given to you to bite on to control any bleeding and encourage clot formation.
Once the extraction is complete, your dentist will provide you with post-operative care instructions. These may include guidelines for managing pain and swelling.
You will have to eat soft foods during the healing period, keep the extraction site clean, and avoid certain activities that could disrupt the healing process.
Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your healing progress and ensure there are no complications.
What Are the Risks of Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
The risks of extracting wisdom teeth should always be discussed in length with the surgeon performing the procedure, but generally speaking, the risks include:
- Damage to other teeth
- Infection of the gums and in rare cases, bone infection
- Failure of the wound to heal around the gum
- Risk of damage to nerves
- Leaving small fragments of the root behind
- Trismus (tight jaw muscles) and difficulty opening mouth
- Necrosis (rotting and death) of the jaw bone
Frequently Asked Questions
Privately, wisdom tooth removal can cost between £1,000-2,000 per tooth, but this depends on the condition of the upper or lower jaw, the number of teeth extracted, any complications during the extraction, and if general anaesthetic is required.
This treatment is usually available on the NHS, as it is associated with symptoms of pain and discomfort; if wisdom teeth become infected, it can be dangerous to patient health. However, there might be a long waiting list.