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Wisdom teeth and what to do about them

What are wisdom teeth:

Wisdom teeth are the third/last molars on each side of the upper and lower jaw. They are the last teeth to erupt- usually in late teens / early twenties. How they erupt differs with individuals.

Why do we get wisdom teeth:

The human diet historically was very abrasive to teeth, under these circumstances the wisdom teeth may have been useful to replace worn and missing teeth.
Now with modern day ‘softer’ diets and good oral hygiene teeth do not wear out as quickly therefore there is often no room for the wisdom teeth.

What does it mean when wisdom teeth are impacted:

Wisdom teeth that do not erupt and remain covered by gum tissue or bone are called impacted.

Problems caused by impacted wisdom teeth:

• Infection
• Crowding
• Pain
• Cysts
• Ulcers
• Food trapping
• Cavity / Decay

A number of these problems can occur because it is very hard to clean all the way back there!

Reasons for removal:

• There is not enough room for them in your mouth.
• You require orthodontic work.
• The teeth or tooth has started to cause any of the above problems.

It is important to remember, while some impacted wisdom teeth cause problems, some do not therefore may not require removal depending on how they are impacted.
The best option is to have an x-ray taken in late teens/early 20’s to assess the situation of the wisdom teeth, at this age the teeth roots are usually not fully formed and are therefore easier to remove than at an older age.

The removal process:

Your dentist will recommend the best treatment for you. They may refer you to an Oral Surgeon to have treatment. You also may decide to have some form of anesthesia such as sedation anesthesia (twilight) or general anesthesia.
An incision will be made to open your gum to expose the wisdom tooth. The tooth may then be divided into segments so it can be removed easily and safely. The gum may require stitches that will be removed in the days following treatment.
After surgery, swelling and tenderness can be expected along with some bruising. Pain medications prescribed by your dentist should help ease the discomfort. It is important to take it easy following surgery and eat only soft foods.

What will it cost to have wisdom teeth removed:

Cost of treatment can be determined following a consultation with your dentist and oral surgeon and will vary depending on which type of anesthesia best suits you.

Your dentist can answer any questions you have prior to the surgery to ensure you are happy and comfortable with the treatment required.