Wisdom teeth

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the upper and lower third molars, located at the very back of the mouth. They are called wisdom teeth because usually they come in between ages 17 and 21—when a person is old enough to have gained some wisdom. Nowadays people often have jaws that are too small for all 32 teeth – 28 is often the most we have room for. So if all the other teeth are present and healthy there may not be enough space for the wisdom teeth to come through properly.

What causes problems with wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth that are healthy and in the right position usually don’t cause problems. You may have a problem if any of the following occur:

1.If part of the wisdom tooth has appeared through the gum and part of it is still covered, food particles and bacteria can collect under the gum edge, since it will be difficult to clean the area effectively. Gum may become sore and perhaps swollen.  This is known as pericoronitis.

This is a temporary problem that can be dealt with by using mouthwashes and special cleaning methods and possibly antibiotics.  If the problem keeps coming back, it may be better to have the tooth removed.

2.Your jaw isn’t large enough to give them room. Your wisdom teeth may get stuck (impacted) in your jaw and not be able to break through your gums.

3.They come in crooked or facing the wrong direction.

4.They are so far back in your mouth or crowded that you have trouble cleaning around them.

Eventually leading to tooth decay and gum problems

What are the main reasons for taking wisdom teeth out?

Far fewer wisdom teeth are now taken out than in the past. If the tooth is not causing problems, we will not want to remove it. We only remove wisdom teeth:

-when it is clear that they will not be able to come through into a useful position because there is not enough room, and they are also causing some pain or discomfort

-if they have only partly come through and are decayed – such teeth will often decay as it will be difficult to clean them as thoroughly as your other teeth

-if they are painful.

Are wisdom teeth difficult to take out?

It all depends on the position and the shape of the roots. We will advise you as to how easy or difficult each tooth will be to remove after looking at the x-rays. Upper wisdom teeth are often more straightforward to remove than lower ones, which are more likely to be impacted.

Will it make any difference to my face or mouth?

Removing wisdom teeth may produce some swelling for a few days but as soon as the area is healed, there will be no difference to your face or appearance. Your mouth will feel more comfortable and less crowded, especially if the teeth are impacted.

What should I expect after a wisdom tooth is taken out?

The amount of discomfort will depend on how easy the removal of the tooth was. There is usually some swelling and discomfort for a few days afterwards, and it is important to follow any advice you get about mouthwashes etc, to help with the healing.  It is best to stay fairly quiet and relaxed and avoid smoking and drinking for 24 hours afterwards to make sure there are no bleeding problems. There may be some stitches to help the gum heal over – we will probably want to see you again about a week later to check on the healing, and to remove any stitches.