Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure to remove one or more wisdom teeth — the four permanent adult teeth located at the back corners of your mouth on the top and bottom.
If a wisdom tooth doesn't have room to grow (impacted wisdom tooth), resulting in pain, infection or other dental problems, you'll likely need to have it pulled. Wisdom tooth extraction may be done by a dentist or an oral surgeon.
To prevent potential future problems, some dentists and oral surgeons recommend wisdom tooth extraction even if impacted teeth aren't currently causing problems.
What are wisdom teeth?
Most people have 4 wisdom teeth, 2 in the upper jaw and 2 in the lower jaw. Some people do not develop all their wisdom teeth and may even be missing some. Wisdom teeth generally erupt into the mouth from about 18 years of age.
Why is wisdom teeth removal necessary?
In many people there is not enough space at the rear of the jaws for wisdom teeth to fully erupt and be functional. When there is not enough space for the wisdom tooth to come through, the tooth becomes wedged or “impacted”. Impactions can involve just soft tissue (gum), or hard tissue (bone). Some fully buried wisdom teeth remain in place and cause no obvious trouble; however, many will eventually cause symptoms.
Your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal if there is insufficient room for the tooth/teeth to erupt, you are in need of orthodontic treatment or if you are experiencing symptoms associated with the eruption/impaction of your wisdom teeth.
When do wisdom teeth need removal?
When a decision is made to proceed with wisdom teeth removal, it is best to have them removed while you are young. In young people, the roots are not fully formed and the surrounding bone is softer. This often allows for easier wisdom teeth removal which means less post-operative pain and faster healing. Early wisdom teeth removal is also recommended for the following reasons:
- To avoid further and more complicated impactions
- To reduce the chance of infection from a partially erupted wisdom tooth
- To remove any food traps created by a partially erupted wisdom tooth
- To prevent harm to adjacent teeth
- To avoid the formation of cysts
- To reduce potential crowding and optimise orthodontic treatment by lessening the effects of pushing and crowding on remaining teeth as the wisdom teeth try to move forward or erupt.
- To remove or prevent problems like pain, swelling and/or infection associated with eruption/partial eruption of wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth that are left for a “wait and see approach” can be harder to remove at a later date and can result in a slower and more painful healing phase. There is also a greater chance of complications from the surgery required to remove them as the teeth are more likely to encroach on surrounding nerves as their roots develop fully.
Wisdom teeth can be removed under a local anaesthetic at the dentists or under a general anaesthetic in hospital. We recommend speaking with your dentist about the options for wisdom teeth removal during a consultation to determine the best approach for your individual requirements.