Wisdom Teeth

What are Wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are extra molar teeth that usually erupt between the ages of 17 – 25. There are usually a total of 4 wisdom teeth, with 1 at the back of each quadrant of the mouth.

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?

In some cases, wisdom teeth can be left in the jaw with no adverse effect. However, there are cases where wisdom teeth need to be removed. Possible reasons for needing wisdom teeth removal are:
• Recurrent infection of the surrounding gum
• This tends to occur if a wisdom tooth has partially erupted. In cases like this, the tooth and surrounding gum is extremely difficult to clean and will often lead to an infection called pericoronitis. The only way to remove risk of recurrent infection is to remove the tooth in question.
• Impaction
• This is the term used to describe a wisdom tooth that is unable to erupt along its normal path.
• This can occur when there is inadequate space in the jaw for the wisdom tooth, or in cases where the wisdom tooth is oriented incorrectly and cannot erupt vertically.
• If left untreated, impaction can lead to infection and ecay, often resulting in the loss of the wisdom tooth as well as the adjacent tooth.
• Cysts
• Occasionally, an unerupted wisdom tooth can form an associated cyst
• Cysts are not harmful in themselves, but usually place pressure on surrounding tissues, creating discomfort and possible infection.
• Recurrent decay
• Sometimes wisdom teeth erupt with no issue, but become decayed later on. In such cases, they can initially have normal fillings placed.
• If the tooth is angled in such a way as to make daily cleaning difficult, the decay will continue to recur even after fillings have been placed.
• In cases such as this, the only treatment is to extract the tooth in question.

Can antibiotics treat a wisdom tooth infection?

Antibiotics are often used to treat the initial presentation of pericoronitis or other infections associated with wisdom teeth. This kind of treatment will usually decrease symptoms for a time, but if the underlying cause is not treated, the infection will certainly recur and possibly cause more damage to other teeth and oral tissues.

Removing Wisdom Teeth
If your wisdom teeth require removal, this treatment can usually be carried out at Windsor Dental Clinic. Most impacted or decayed wisdom teeth can be removed by your dentist under local anaesthetic, possibly with the aid of a relaxing medication like diazepam or nitrous oxide. This process and how it applies specifically to your case will be explained in more detail by your dentist.
If your case is particularly complicated or difficult, you can be referred to an oral surgeon, who will be able to extract your wisdom teeth under general or local anaesthetic.

Possibly reasons for requiring a specialist to remove your wisdom teeth include:
• Severe impaction where extraction under local anaesthetic will be overly traumatic.
• A patient may be overly anxious and would prefer to have the procedure performed under a general anaesthetic.

What are the risks involved?

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with extraction of wisdom teeth. The roots of most wisdom teeth in the lower jaw are quite close to a nerve (inferior alveolar nerve) that runs inside the jaw bone. Whenever these teeth are extracted, there is a risk of causing trauma to this nerve. Such trauma can result in paraesthesia (tingling sensation) of the lower lip and/or tongue for a few months until the nerve recovers. The degree of risk varies greatly between patients, depending on how close the wisdom tooth is to this nerve. Your dentist will discuss this with you in more detail.