Wisdom Teeth/3rd Molars
If your dentist has recommended that you have your wisdom teeth removed, it is important to know the details of the surgery you are considering. The first step to this understanding is having the following questions answered:
- Why am I having this treatment?
- What are the important risks involved?
- What treatment options are available to me?
You will be able to discuss these questions with Dr Leinkram during your consultation. You will have an opportunity to learn all about your surgery and learn how having your wisdom teeth can benefit you and your condition.
Why am I having my wisdom teeth removed?
One of the most common surgical procedures performed in Australia is the removal of wisdom teeth. While this surgery is associated with a liquid diet and chubby cheeks, it is often very important for your oral health and the cosmetic look of your teeth to opt for this procedure.
Wisdom teeth are the last molars (third molars) in each quadrant of your mouth. They usually come through the gums between the ages of 18 and 25 years, though there is usually not enough space for them to fully erupt. This can cause many complications, including:
- Infection: Infection around the gum is very common and can occur when bacteria in the mouth collects between the wisdom tooth and the flap of skin lying over it. It is difficult to properly clean the area around the third molar, so the bacteria are protected and infection develops. This can sometimes be severe if the infection spreads to the cheek, under the tongue or to the throat.
- Damage: When the teeth are angled forward, they can damage the molar tooth in front. Also, bacteria “wedged” between the teeth can cause decay (a hole) in the second molar that is on the root surface and therefore unable to be fixed with a filling.
- Cysts or Growths: A cyst or growth around the wisdom tooth is quite common, but it requires attention. If it is suspected from your radiograph, Dr Leinkram will be sure to explain the implications in detail and let you know your options for treatment.
If any of these events have occurred, it is usually in your best interest to have your wisdom teeth removed. Often, it is considered that one or more of these events are likely to occur in the future. In this instance, you will be able to discuss the pros and cons of preventative (prophylactic) treatment.
What kind of risks are involved with dental extraction?
The surgical removal of wisdom teeth is a very common procedure. After treatment, there is often swelling and pain. Thankfully, unfavourable outcomes are rare. It is nonetheless important you clearly understand the risks involved before consenting to treatment.
There are two nerves that sometimes pass in close proximity to the lower wisdom tooth. One travels through the jawbone and passes forward, giving feeling to the lip and the chin. The other travels under the gum on the tongue side of the tooth and gives feeling to the tongue. Very rarely, these nerves can be injured. This leads to numbness or tingling in the lip, the chin and/or the tongue. Usually, any sensory changes are temporary but extremely rarely, they can be permanent.
Following your extractions, your jaw may be quite sore to open and close. This rarely lasts more than 10 days. You should follow a soft diet during this period by avoiding nuts, raw vegetables, tough meats and tough bread.
Some oozing from the sockets can be expected following treatment. Bleeding is very rare. You can control this by placing gauze (or tea bags) directly over the socket and bite firmly for 20 minutes.
The risk of infection is greatly reduced by rinsing with mouthwash, tooth brushing and by not smoking. You may even have antibiotics prescribed if your case makes you more prone to infection.
It is advisable you arrange a week off work or school. Letters explaining your absence can easily be prepared on the day of treatment.
What are my treatment options?
The removal of all four wisdom teeth usually involves a small surgical procedure lasting approximately 45 minutes. It can be performed safely in the dental chair under local anaesthesia. Many people are more comfortable to be asleep under general anaesthesia in which case, your treatment will take place in hospital.
Sometimes we will recommend that you leave the wisdom teeth until they cause further problems. Alternatively, we may suggest some teeth be removed and others retained. We will offer our professional opinions but having clearly understood the reasons for treatment and the risks involved, you will make the final decision.
Learn More About Wisdom Teeth Extraction
If you have been recommended for removal of your wisdom teeth, contact us today to learn more about your options, your procedure details and to ask Dr Leinkram any questions you may have.