Wisdom Teeth

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Wisdom Teeth: Who Needs Them ?

Long after our primary (baby) teeth have been replaced by permanent teeth, we get our third molars - a set of four permanent teeth which come in behind the upper and lower 2nd molars. Third molars are called "wisdom" teeth because they generally erupt between 17 and 21 years of age, when we reach adulthood.


Why Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Problems?

Wisdom teeth that are healthy and properly positioned can be a valuable asset to the mouth. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and problems develop that require their removal. For example, when the jaw is not large enough to accommodate these teeth, they can become impacted, that is, unable to come in, or move into their proper place. They may grow sideways, emerge only partway through the gum, or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone.

Impaction occurs most often in the third molars of the lower jaw. After examining your mouth and taking X-Rays, your dentist will have discussed whether your wisdom teeth should be removed and advise you accordingly.

Why are Wisdom Teeth Removed ?

Extraction of third molars can protect the overall health of the mouth. It is generally recommended when the following conditions occur:
  • Wisdom teeth which have only partially erupted. This leaves an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection under the gum. Pain, swelling, jaw stiffness and general illness can result.
  • Impacted wisdom teeth may continue growing without enough room, damaging adjacent teeth. This continued pressure can eventually destroy the healthy second molar tooth.
  • A fluid filled sac (cyst) or tumour forms, destroying surrounding structures such as bone or tooth-roots.

panoramic radiograph wisdom teeth Don Macalister Oral Surgeon-973
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Why Remove the Teeth Early ?

People between the ages of 16 and 19 should have their wisdom teeth evaluated. If they need to be removed, ideally it should be considered before age 20 when generally fewer complications will occur. At a younger age, tooth roots are not fully developed, the surrounding bone is soft and there is less chance of damage to nearby nerves or other structures. There is also less surgical risk and healing is generally faster. 

Extractions of wisdom teeth may be performed by a general dentist, but your dentist believes that your treatment would be best managed by your referral to an Oral surgeon. An Oral Surgeon is a dentist who specialises in surgery which includes the removal of wisdom teeth.

What to Expect of the Procedure

Before surgery, I will explain in detail to you and the person accompanying you, what to expect. I will go through the consent form with you, and give you personalised instructions to follow. Keep in mind these general items, they will assist your surgery to go smoothly. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and arrange to have a responsible adult to escort you home after the procedure, and stay with you, at least for the next 2 hours. Extractions, of impacted wisdom teeth, will generally cause some swelling and discomfort. The medication prescribed will provide pain control. 

Some patients experience numbness or tingling in their lip, chin or tongue following surgery. Normal sensation usually returns over a period of time. Occasionally, a problem of healing, known as a dry socket occurs. This is when the blood clot breaks down earlier than normal. If this occurs a dressing can be placed in the socket, to protect it until the socket heals.

Prior to the procedure of having your teeth out there is ample time to talk with me about any questions that you have. It is especially important to let me know on the day of your surgery, of any illness that you have and medication that you are taking. If your general dentist has referred you to me, we will both work together to provide you with the best and most efficient care.

Your well-being is our primary concern.


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