Wisdom tooth removal is a surgical procedure on the teeth that involves removing the third molars which are causing problems (pain, lack of space, cavities, infections) and significant discomfort.
Signs you need to a have a wisdom tooth removed
Dentists remove wisdom teeth that are causing complications for the patient:
- If they grow in an uncontrolled manner due to lack of space and cause the other teeth to move.
- If they are difficult to access with a toothbrush and become a breeding ground for bacteria, creating a high risk of cavities.
- If the gum tissue around the wisdom teeth becomes swollen and infected (pericoronitis).
They are not systematically removed as a preventive measure except sometimes in adolescents as part of orthodontic treatment before root growth is complete. They are normally extracted between the ages of 20 and 25.
How the procedure works
Wisdom tooth removal is an outpatient procedure under local anaesthetic or, in rare cases, under general anaesthetic if the patient wishes. It usually takes around 15 to 30 minutes per tooth.
The dentist can remove all four wisdom teeth in one session or two sessions (two per side), with an interval of two to three weeks in between.
- If the wisdom teeth are non-impacted, they are pulled out with pliers.
- If the teeth are semi-impacted, the dentist will make a small incision in the gum and then mill the bone. If the tooth is too big, they will break it into pieces before extracting it. Once the tooth is removed, the dentist will stitch up the gum with absorbable suture.
It is sometimes difficult to extract wisdom teeth from the lower jaw because this contains deep roots that come into contact with the lower alveolar nerve that manages the sensitivity of the lower lip and the chin, or lingual nerve that controls the sensitivity of the tongue.
To avoid any risk of temporary or permanent loss of sensation, the dentist will carry out a scan or x-ray before the operation.
Your cheeks will be puffy, especially when you wake up. The best solution for this is to apply an ice pack for 30 minutes, then take a 30-minute break, and continue doing this for the first 24 hours. The dentist may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory to reduce the swelling.
If the patient feels mild pain, they should take analgesics and steroids.
The dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent the risk of infection.
It is not uncommon for a haematoma to appear from the cheek to the neck.
If the gums bleed slightly, the patient can put a sterile compress on and bite it for about ten minutes.
It is also advisable:
- Not to use mouthwash on the first day.
- To eat soft food and drink room-temperature drinks the first day.
- To keep up good mouth hygiene practices by brushing your teeth very gently.
- Not to smoke.
It is advisable to wait:
- Two to three days before doing gentle exercise and returning to work.
- One week before carrying out normal physical activity.
- Two weeks before doing intense exercise and eating normally.