A fully grown adult jaw line is made up of 32 teeth, of which there are four wisdom teeth. The wisdom teeth are the last of our adult teeth to come through, right up the back of the mouth on both sides of our top and bottom jaw. Generally, wisdom teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, however sometimes they may not appear until a later date, or in some cases may never erupt at all. Not everyone has wisdom teeth and generally an X-ray is required to record their presence or absence.
If our wisdom teeth position themselves correctly and there is sufficient room in the mouth there may only be a minor discomfort as they erupt. However many people do not have adequate space along their jaw line for their wisdom teeth to completely erupt. A common occurrence is when the tooth is at an angle which will cause it to press against the molar in front of it and cannot erupt normally. These teeth are called ‘impacted’ wisdom tooth and they can be unerupted (under the bone and gum) or partially erupted (with some tooth above the gum line but the bulk below).
The team at Sydney Dental Surgeons will not recommend wisdom tooth removal if they are functionally erupted and able to be cleaned and maintained. Also there is no need to remove unerupted and impacted wisdom teeth if they are causing no pathology or pain. Usually a low dose panoramic xray will clearly define the position of all the wisdom teeth. Partially erupted wisdom teeth are often removed because they are susceptible to infection and decay and are difficult to clean. Decay in wisdom teeth may not cause any pain and can often affect the tooth in front.
Sometimes, if the roots of lower wisdom teeth are close to the mandibular nerve, a cone-beam x-ray will be required to take a picture three dimensionally.
The recovery period will normally last only a few days and the patient is generally encouraged to take analgesics such as ibuprofen or paracetamol during this time. It is completely normal to experience some swelling for the few days after the procedure. Your dentist will advise you on how best to manage the swelling and discomfort.
For surgical extractions, a follow up appointment will be booked about two weeks after the extraction to remove any stitches and check that the healing is progressing normally.
Approximately 10% of lower molar extractions develop a dry socket some days after removal. This is due to the loss of the clot and is very painful but can be treated. The socket may require a coupe of dressings over a week or so and will then heal slowly.
If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth, make an appointment with one of our dentists at Sydney Dental Surgeons by calling (02) 9221 1530 or book an appointment by clicking here.