The troublesome Wisdom Tooth
Your wisdom teeth are the last teeth to emerge from your gums. This usually happens during your late teens, or “the age of wisdom”, which gives them their name. Often there is not enough room for them in the jaw. They may become trapped, or impacted, in the jawbone and gums, and remain partly or fully buried.
Why do we remove impacted wisdom teeth?
The gum around an impacted tooth may become infected. This may cause severe pain, swelling, jaw stiffness or even general illness.
An impacted tooth may decay even though it is not visible in the mouth. This can cause pain. It may also damage or decay adjacent healthy teeth or push them out of position.
You may have had trouble already and been advised to have your wisdom teeth removed. If you wait until they do cause trouble, you may have to be treated for pain and infection, before they can be removed. Problems with wisdom teeth tend to get worse as you get older. Removing them is easier when you are young. Healing will also be quicker.
What should you expect after removal of impacted wisdom teeth?
The removal of an impacted wisdom tooth is not a simple extraction. It is a small operation. Some bone may need to be removed to allow removal of the tooth. Stitches are often needed too. As with any other operation you must expect some pain afterwards. This is due to the reaction of your body to the operation. Your face will be swollen for a few days.
You may also have some stiffness in your jaw joints. This is just the body’s way of protecting the healing gum against too much movement. It may make eating difficult for a while.
You may also have some bruising on your face. This is nothing to be concerned about; it is simply blood that has leaked away from the operation site. It will disappear in a week or ten days.
The amount of discomfort and its duration varies. Normally pain and discomfort last around a week to 10 days; whilst bruising, if it occurs, may persist a little longer. In older patients the bruising may be more widespread than younger patients. You should anticipate around one week away from work.
What can we do for the pain?
We advise the use of an anti-inflammatory regime to prevent the build-up of excess swelling. If we can reduce post-operative swelling then the pain associated with it will also be reduced. Therefore it is very important for you to follow the instructions for taking Nurofen (Ibuprofen) BEFORE the treatment appointment.
Are there any risks?
There are always risks involved in surgery. Removal of wisdom teeth is no exception. The removal of a wisdom tooth leaves a socket in the bone to heal. Sometimes healing may be delayed if the blood clot in the socket is dislodged or washed away. This may prolong your pain. It can be treated to make it more comfortable for you if you contact us, or your own dentist, for help.
There are two nerves very close to your lower wisdom teeth. They supply feeling to your teeth, lower lip and side of your tongue. The greatest care is taken to protect these nerves while your teeth are removed. But sometimes they may be unavoidably injured, causing a temporary tingling/burning sensation or numbness. It is rare for this to last more than a few weeks. It does not alter your appearance. In an extremely small number of patients, some, or all, of the numbness may remain permanently. If your teeth pose any special risks these will be discussed with you. Any questions you may have will be answered as fully as possible.
You must balance these small risks against the benefits of removing your wisdom teeth. The decision to have your wisdom teeth removed is always yours.
Once wisdom teeth have been removed they do not grow again. The benefits will be life long.