Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop in the mouth, although not everyone gets them. These supplementary teeth were important for our ancestors, who often lost teeth early, but today they can be more of a problem than a benefit.
If you have a problem with a wisdom tooth that's still developing or has already erupted, your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal or another treatment. Wisdom teeth may be removed for many different reasons, and there must always be a good reason for the procedure to be carried out.
If you think you might have a wisdom tooth problem, or you want to know more about what wisdom teeth removal involves, make an appointment with our Gold Coast dentists at Robina Town Dental. Call 07 5575 9100 or book online.
When should a wisdom tooth be removed?
Your dentist will examine your mouth and ask about the problems you're experiencing to help them decide whether wisdom tooth removal is needed. This will usually involve taking an x-ray so they can see the position of the tooth in the gum and jaw.
Signs that you might need wisdom teeth removal can include:
- Pain or swelling in the corner of your mouth
- Pressure on your back teeth
- Signs of a possible infection, such as red or swollen gums, bad breath and fever
- Food getting trapped in your back teeth and being difficult to remove
- The tooth is irritating or cutting the inside of your mouth
In some cases, wisdom teeth removal may be recommended even if you don't have any symptoms. This could be because you have a high risk of wisdom tooth problems developing in the future, or you're having another treatment that may be affected by the presence of wisdom teeth.
Following are the common reasons why wisdom teeth are removed:
Impacted wisdom tooth
If a wisdom tooth doesn't break through the gum, it is said to be impacted. This usually happens if there isn't enough space at the back of the jaw for an additional tooth.
Impacted wisdom teeth are more common in the lower jaw than the upper jaw. They are often painful, and may cause problems with the surrounding teeth, or infections or other problems in the gum.
A partially-erupted wisdom tooth is an impacted tooth that has emerged part of the way through the gum. Partially-erupted wisdom teeth can put pressure on the neighbouring teeth, which may cause them to go crooked. They may also trap bacteria and make the teeth difficult to clean, which can increase your oral health risks.
An over-erupted wisdom tooth is a tooth that grows too far into the mouth. This may affect your bite, which could lead to eating difficulties or other problems, such as teeth grinding. Over-erupted wisdom teeth may also rub or scratch soft tissues in the mouth, causing irritation or injury.
An impacted wisdom tooth may cause an infection or other problem in the gum, such as an abscess or cyst. Infections may also happen if open gum tissue around a partly-erupted tooth lets in bacteria.
You may have a gum infection if the gum is red or swollen, feels tender, or bleeds when you brush your teeth, or if you have other possible signs of an infection, such as fever.
Crowded or misaligned teeth
Wisdom teeth can sometimes put pressure on existing teeth in the mouth, which may cause them to go crooked. This could affect how your teeth bite together, and may make them harder to clean.
This is more likely to happen if you have a smaller jaw, with less space for additional teeth. Wisdom tooth removal may be recommended if the tooth is thought likely to cause misalignment or crowding, or to prevent an existing problem from getting worse.
A wisdom tooth in the upper jaw may sometimes put pressure on the sinus cavity, which may cause sinus problems, pain and other associated symptoms.
Preparation for other treatments
Dentists may recommend extracting a growing or erupted wisdom tooth as preparation for these treatments, which may improve results.
Should wisdom teeth be removed early?
If your dentist determines that your wisdom teeth or your child's wisdom teeth are likely to cause problems in the future, they may recommend premature wisdom tooth removal. This is usually recommended in the teenage years, while the teeth are not yet fully formed and easier to remove, and when the recovery period is usually shorter.
Early wisdom teeth removal is a form of preventive dentistry, as it can help to prevent pain and suffering later, and can lower your risks compared to waiting for a problem to develop. However, as there is no guarantee that wisdom tooth problems will happen, premature removal is not always advised, and the decision is down to the individual.
What are the benefits of keeping wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth do not normally need to be extracted if they are healthy, erupting normally, and are not causing problems in your mouth. Like all teeth, wisdom teeth serve purposes. They can help you to chew and grind food at the back of your mouth and help to support your jaw.
Keeping healthy wisdom teeth can mean avoiding unnecessary surgery. However, if your wisdom teeth are causing problems, or are likely to, keeping them could lead to more serious problems developing in the future.
What is the process for wisdom teeth removal?
If you choose to have a wisdom tooth removed, your dentist will explain what's involved, so you know what to expect. It can take between 45 and 90 minutes to remove a wisdom tooth, and the time and procedure can vary, depending on the type of wisdom tooth problem you have.
If your wisdom tooth has already fully erupted, your dentist may be able to remove it like any other tooth. This involves rocking the tooth back and forth using forceps to widen the socket before pulling the tooth out.
If a tooth is impacted or only partly erupted, your dentist or oral surgeon will need to make an incision in the gum to access the tooth. The wisdom tooth may need to be broken apart and removed in pieces if it is difficult to access. The gum will then be stitched closed.
Does wisdom teeth removal hurt?
Dentists normally use local anaesthesia to numb the mouth and prevent you from feeling pain while they are removing your wisdom tooth. If you need a more complex extraction, or you have anxiety about dental treatments, your dentist may offer other sedation methods, or you may be put to sleep during the procedure.
When anaesthesia or sedatives wear off, your mouth will usually hurt for a few days after a wisdom tooth procedure. Your dentist can advise you about pain relief medication to take, and they may also recommend other remedies to help reduce pain and swelling.
Having a wisdom tooth taken out can involve some manageable pain, but it can also permanently relieve the pain and discomfort of a problematic wisdom tooth.
Recovery from wisdom teeth removal
Wisdom tooth removal is a routine dental procedure that involves low risks when it's carried out by a qualified and experienced professional. You should follow your dentist's advice during your recovery, which may include:
- Taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication
- Using an ice pack or cold compress to reduce swelling
- Following a soft or liquid diet for the first 3 days after wisdom tooth surgery
- Avoiding strenuous exercise, tobacco and alcohol
If wisdom tooth pain or other symptoms carry on for longer than expected, you should see an emergency dentist for an urgent check-up
Are there alternatives to wisdom tooth removal?
Wisdom tooth problems can sometimes have other solutions, besides extraction. Your dentist will tell you what all of your treatment options are, which can vary depending on the individual case. These options may include:
- Removing gum tissue over the tooth to help an impacted wisdom tooth erupt
- Removing some of the gum around a partly-erupted wisdom tooth
- Reducing the crown of an over-erupted wisdom tooth
- Prescribing antibiotics or antibacterial mouthwash to treat an infection
- Using pain relief medication or other methods to manage temporary wisdom tooth pain
Wisdom teeth removal Gold Coast
Is a wisdom tooth giving you pain, or do you want to know more about wisdom tooth removal on the Gold Coast? Call our friendly team at Robina Town Dental on 07 5575 9100 or make an online booking and we'll schedule an appointment with our experienced dentist to examine your mouth and discuss your options.
Our Gold Coast dental clinic is conveniently located in Robina Town Centre, and we serve all nearby locations including Burleigh Heads, Burleigh Waters, Clear Island Waters, Mermaid Waters, Merrimac, Miami, Mudgeeraba, Varsity Lakes and Worongary.
InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Should you have your wisdom teeth removed? [Updated 2020 May 7]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279590/