Did you know that your wisdom teeth are the last teeth to appear in your mouth and are the most commonly removed teeth? Not only that but the pain caused by a wisdom tooth is the most recurring reason why young adults seek emergency dental care?
2% of the world’s population do not develop any wisdom teeth, but for the remaining 98%, we, unfortunately, have to deal with wisdom tooth pain as we go through adulthood and often the only remedy is to remove the offending tooth. The following article will explain wisdom tooth removal procedure in detail as well as answer all the most commonly asked questions that we receive from patients in our Malta Dental Clinics.
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars are located at the back of your mouth and are usually the last set of teeth to grow. Most people have four wisdom teeth, although some develop fewer. The third molars grow when one transitions into adulthood during their late teens or early twenties.
Why A Wisdom Tooth Can Cause Problems
While some people grow their wisdom teeth without any issues, there are times when a person’s jaw is too small to accommodate all four molars. Other times, they may get trapped beneath the gums and grow in sideways.
Wisdom teeth that do not grow normally are known as impacted. When your wisdom teeth are impacted, they may cause pain, infections and swelling.
So, When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?
Wisdom teeth should be removed when they pose a risk of damaging your gums or the surrounding healthy teeth.
What Type Of Dentist Removes Wisdom Teeth?
A qualified general dental surgeon or an oral surgeon can extract a problematic wisdom tooth.
Are There Alternatives To Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Yes. Coronectomy is an alternative to wisdom tooth extraction. This treatment involves the removal of the crown of your tooth and leaving the roots intact.
How Do You Prepare For A Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure
Although wisdom tooth removal is a common practice, it is still a major procedure and requires planning. Before heading for your appointment make sure to:
- Bring a friend – After the procedure, you might need the help of a friend or a family member to drive you home. This is due to the anaesthesia that will be administered during the process. However, the effects of the anaesthesia wears off after a few hours.
- Do not drink or eat anything for 8 hours before the surgery
- Do not smoke or ingest alcoholic beverages for at least 8 hours before your surgery
- Brush your teeth before going in for the appointment to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth
- Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothing, preferably a short-sleeved shirt to ease the process of taking your blood pressure and application of monitoring equipment.
What Happens Before The Wisdom Teeth Removal Procedure?
- You will meet up with your dentist to talk about any health problems or allergies you have
- You will list any drugs you take on a regular basis
- You will discuss the type of anaesthesia you will have during the procedure
- You can ask any questions regarding the surgery
What type of anaesthetic is used?
There are various options of anaesthesia to choose from. They include:
Local anaesthesia: This is administered through injections near the site of the wisdom tooth extraction. It blocks the sensation of pain during the procedure.
Sedation anaesthesia: This anaesthesia suppresses your consciousness and is administered through an IV. Hence, you will not feel any pain or pressure, and you may have limited to no memory of the procedure. Your dentist may also combine sedation with local anaesthesia to numb the site of extraction.
General Anesthesia: this anaesthesia is recommended for more complicated procedures. You will have no pain or memory of the process. Your dentist administers a local anaesthesia to numb the site of extraction.
Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas): Nitrous is a milder and affordable anaesthesia that you inhale through a mask placed over your nose. It is given alongside the local anaesthesia and takes only a few minutes to wear off. It is highly recommended if you are particularly anxious about the procedure.
What Happens During The Wisdom Teeth Removal Procedure?
Your dentist will administer local anaesthesia or sedation to numb your mouth or suppress your consciousness during the process according to your preference. They will then make an incision in the gum to expose your tooth and bone. If there is any bone blocking access to the root of your molar, your dentist will remove it. In instances where the tooth is hard to remove, your dentist may need to break it into several pieces as described below:
- The tooth is extracted
- The extraction site is cleaned and cleared of any remaining debris
- You will then be stitched up to allow healing, and a gauze will be placed over the site to control bleeding as well as help in the formation of a blood clot
How Long Does It Take To Remove A Wisdom Tooth?
The procedure takes anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes.
What to Expect Immediately After The Treatment
You can expect some swelling and discomfort for a few days after the treatment. Make sure to follow your dentist’s advice on mouthwashes to help with the healing. Your dentist may also prescribe pain relievers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to help you deal with the pain. Avoid smoking or drinking for at least 24 hours after the surgery.
Recovery Time for Wisdom Tooth Removal
Typically, it will take at least four days for you to recover. In some cases, the swelling and discomfort may persist for more than a week.
What Can You Eat And Drink?
After a successful wisdom tooth extraction, it is advisable that you eat soft foods such as yoghurt, smoothies, pureed foods, soups, pudding and shakes. However, you need to avoid spicy foods and hot beverages for a few days after the procedure. This will help to minimise the possible irritation and painful chewing.
Can Bleeding Occur?
Yes. However, bleeding differs from patient to patient. Some patients only need a gauze for an hour after surgery to stop the bleeding while some may bleed up to 24 hours after the surgery. Therefore, it is not unusual that you wake up the next morning with a little blood in your mouth. However, if the blood is consistent and comes out in a constant flow, seek the assistance of your dentist immediately.
Do I Need To Take Any Time Off Work?
It is recommended that you take a day or two off work after having your wisdom teeth extracted. This will give you enough time to recover from the procedure.
What are The Risks & Side Effects?
Wisdom tooth extraction has some risks and side effects, although they are rare.
Dry socket or alveolar Osteitis: this occurs when the blood clot at the surgical site dislodges exposing the bone. This may cause inflammation and pain. The problem occurs between two to five days and is commonly accompanied by constant throbbing pain and bad taste or smell in the mouth. Make sure to contact your dentist immediately if this happens to you.
Other risks include:
- Altered sensation of the lip, tongue, or gum tissue
- Damage to adjacent teeth
- Injury to the adjacent inferior alveolar nerve
When Should You Call Your Dentist?
- If your swelling increases after two or three days post extraction
- If you experience high fever
- Excessive bleeding
- If you have difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Severe pain that is not relieved by pain medication
- Continued numbness
- Blood or pus in your nasal discharge
Book Your Dental Consultation Appointment Today
Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.
If you would like to schedule a consultation at Savina Dental, please book your appointment using this form.
Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics