Wisdom Teeth

Hillcrest Dental Services

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to erupt in the back corners of the upper and lower adult mouth. In a normal mouth, this does not present any problems but many adults experience discomfort if the teeth erupt too close to existing permanent teeth and cause crowding, improper bites and other problems. The tooth may also grow at an angle which makes it impossible to erupt fully or even partially and this can lead to many problems if they are not pulled. This is called an impacted tooth and it can cause many oral health problems and can be extremely painful.

If they are only partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to grow and this will cause an infection. This will lead to severe discomfort and inflammation. The symptoms are swelling, jaw stiffness, pain and illness. In extreme cases and especially when left untreated this may cause tumours and cysts that may result in the destruction of the jaw bone and healthy teeth.

This is why wisdom teeth need to be removed as soon as problems arise rather than risking severe infections and decreasing the surgical risk.

The first thing the dentist will have to do is to take an x-ray to confirm that the pain and infection are caused by the wisdom teeth. Some wisdom teeth can be extracted in dental surgery under local anaesthetic. In the more severe cases, the dentist will recommend that the extraction takes place under general anaesthetic in a hospital.

If necessary antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent infection. Otherwise, home care will be the same as for any extraction. Aftercare includes gentle rinsing with warm salt water. Cold compresses applied to the outside cheek near the area may reduce swelling. Things to avoid are smoking, vigorous brushing or rinsing and drinking through straws. Also avoid hard crunchy foods and hot liquids such as coffee or tea that may dislodge the naturally formed blood clot, which protects the wound.

A follow-up will usually be scheduled for one week after the procedure.

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