Wisdom Teeth

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth tend to start appearing between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five years old, but this can vary and some people develop them much later. Nowadays, people have smaller jaws and this means that there is sometimes not enough space for the wisdom teeth to emerge and develop properly.

Do wisdom teeth always cause problems?

They often develop without any problems if there is enough room for them to come through. It is common to experience mild pain when the teeth are erupting, but this is only temporary and can be relieved by pain medication. If there is not enough space this can be problematic as the teeth will start to grow against neighbouring tooth.

Impacted wisdom tooth

This is a tooth that gets stuck against neighbouring teeth and starts to develop at an angle. The teeth become impacted if there is a lack of space for proper development of the tooth.

What difficulties may this cause?

You may experience swollen and sore gums during the initial stages of tooth eruption, but pain medication can lessen symptoms of discomfort. Any pain should subside once the tooth has erupted, as long as there is sufficient space for the tooth to grow. It can be difficult to clean around the tooth when it is partially erupted and there is the risk of decay and bacterial infection.

What can I do at home?

A solution of water and salt rinsed in the mouth can help to remove bacteria, but make sure the water is not too hot. You can also use antibacterial mouthwash to clean your mouth and prevent infection. If you experience pain and inflammation take pain relief medication.

What if this doesn't help?

If you are still suffering after taking painkillers and using mouthwash, see your dentist. They will examine your mouth to settle on the cause of pain. Antibiotics will be prescribed if an infection is present.

Are dental X-rays needed?

Your dentist may recommend X-ray to see the exact position of the tooth roots. This will help them to determine if there is enough space for the wisdom teeth to develop normally.

Why would I need my wisdom teeth taken out?

There are various reasons you may need your wisdom teeth taken out, including:

  • Cases where there is inadequate space.
  • If the tooth is decayed and only part of the tooth has erupted.
  • If the tooth is making it difficult to clean the other teeth and putting oral health at risk.
  • If the tooth starts to overgrow, which occurs when the lower tooth has not yet erupted or it has already been extracted.
  • If the teeth are experiencing considerable pain.

Is the extraction of wisdom teeth complex?

In some cases, it is difficult to extract wisdom teeth because they can grow in an awkward position. The difficulty of the procedure will depend on the location of the tooth. Often, upper teeth are simpler to remove than lower teeth because there is a higher risk of the lower wisdom teeth being impacted. If the operation is more complex you may be referred to an oral surgeon and the procedure will take place in hospital.

Wisdom teeth can be extracted under general or local anaesthetic (this is usually done in hospital) or sedation. Your dentist will discuss these options with you. Sometimes there is a risk that your lip will be numb after the procedure, but this should wear off.

Will the operation make a difference to my appearance?

Your face may be slightly swollen for a couple of days after the treatment, but there are no long-term differences to your appearance.

What will happen after extraction?

It is common to experience soreness and swelling after having a wisdom tooth taken out. The amount of pain depends on the location of the tooth and how complex the procedure was. You can take painkillers to ease discomfort and swelling. After the operation try to rest for around 24 hours and see your dentist if you experience pain that does not wear off with painkillers. If you have had general anaesthetic you will remain in hospital temporarily and you should arrange a lift home as you will not be able to drive.

How much does wisdom tooth removal cost?

All dental treatment carried out in hospital is free of charge. Wisdom tooth removal is available on the NHS and care is without charge for children and patients who receive certain benefits. The cost of private treatment will depend on the practice you visit. Your dentist will be able to tell you how much the procedure will cost.

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