WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?
Wisdom teeth (also called third molars) are usually the last teeth to come through the gums at the rear of the upper and lower jaws. They usually erupt when people are in their late teens and early twenties.
Most people have four wisdom teeth. Some people can have zero, one, two or three wisdom teeth. In rare cases, some people develop more than four.
WHY SHOULD YOU REMOVE WISDOM TEETH?
In many people there is not enough room in the jaw to allow the wisdom teeth to erupt fully through the gums. They become wedged or "impacted" against the tooth in front of them. These teeth can sometimes remain like this and cause no concern to the person, while others may cause severe, significant problems.
WHAT PROBLEMS DO WISDOM TEETH CAUSE?
Often, one or more of the wisdom teeth may cause problems such as:
- food trapping & causing cavities in the wisdom tooth & the one next to it,
- painful gum infection, swelling & jaw stiffness,
- pushing teeth nearby out of alignment
- pain from pressure
- cyst formation and bone loss
- ulcer where the tooth is rubbing inside the cheek
- resorption cavity in the tooth next to it
If any of the above are occurring or likely to occur, your dentist may recommend removing them.
Removing wisdom teeth is a very common procedure and when they are troublesome should be done as soon as possible before the problems become worse.
WHEN SHOULD YOU REMOVE WISDOM TEETH?
Early removal of the wisdom teeth is recommended (16yo-17yo+) when there is not enough room for the tooth to push through, or there is a risk they will cause crowding in straightened teeth (for example after a patient has completed orthodontic/braces treatment).
It is best to have problematic wisdom teeth removed while the patient is young (late teens and early twenties), because the surrounding bone is softer and the roots of the wisdom teeth have not fully developed into a position where there can be increased risk to the inferior dental nerve. This nerve supplies sensation to the lower teeth and the lower lip/chin skin.
Young people also benefit from faster healing and better nerve recovery so removal in the late teenage years is the lowest risk time for wisdom teeth removal.
If the roots are already fully developed then the next ideal time is before the age of 30. After this, the bone around impacted wisdom teeth becomes denser making the wisdom teeth removal more difficult and the risks associated with surgery increases.
ARE THERE ANY RISKS INVOLVED WITH WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL?
The risks of wisdom teeth removal are unique to each individual patient and are affected by the age of the patient, the length and development of the wisdom tooth roots, the reason for removal, the location or depth of impaction in bone, the closeness to the inferior dental nerve to the wisdom tooth in the (lower jaw), the closeness of the maxillary sinus to the wisdom tooth in the upper jaw (maxilla) and the previous medical history of the individual.
These risks are minimized by patient assessment, review of an OPG x-ray image, and the use of best practice surgical techniques and equipment.
In some cases where the wisdom teeth removal will be significantly complex, your dentist will refer you to see a Specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.
CAN YOU REMOVE WISDOM TEETH WHILE ASLEEP (UNDER GENERAL ANAESTHETIC)?
Yes, Dr Gregory Hulme-Peake is highly skilled in oral surgery and has a special interest in wisdom tooth removal. Depending on the placement of your teeth and how much they have developed, removal may be simple or more surgical.
In most cases, Dr Greg recommends his patients have the procedure done under general anaesthesia at St Andrew's Hospital in Toowoomba, rather than in-chair at our surgery.
Not all practices are able to offer this option to their patients, and we’re fortunate to be able to provide this service. Instead of having multiple appointments & several healing periods, it allows you to have all four teeth removed in one appointment, while you’re asleep.
Wisdom teeth often prove problematic to remove and general anaesthesia allows Dr Greg to perform the procedure without fear of causing you discomfort. The extraction sites will all heal at the same time, and there won’t be a lot of dental anxiety tied to the procedure.
Give our friendly reception team a call today to find out more, or schedule a time with Dr Greg by clicking the button below.