Adults have a maximum of 32 teeth. The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt at around 17-25 years of age. Nowadays, many people have jaws which are too small to accommodate these wisdom teeth. This can lead to a shortage of space for the wisdom teeth to erupt into.
Why do wisdom teeth often cause problems?
Often wisdom teeth only erupt partially, and some gum can remain covering part of the tooth. This makes the wisdom tooth more difficult to clean and can lead to the gum around the tooth becoming infected. Dentists describe this infection of the gum around the wisdom tooth as ‘pericoronitis.’ Our friendly team of dentists, hygienists and nurses can advise you on the best way to keep your wisdom teeth clean.
If the inflammation is mild, then good oral hygiene, warm salt water mouth rinses and rinsing with chlorhexidine mouthwash (for a maximum of two weeks), may be enough to alleviate the inflammation. However, if the inflammation is more severe or has occurred before, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed and the tooth may be subsequently extracted.
Often this shortage of space may lead to the wisdom tooth lying at an angle against the tooth in front of it, and the dentist will describe the tooth as an ‘impacted’ wisdom tooth. Sometimes this can lead to bacterial plaque accumulating around the tooth and this may lead to decay or gum disease affecting the wisdom tooth or the tooth in front of it. If the decay or gum disease is very advanced, the wisdom tooth may have to be extracted.
When is extraction of wisdom teeth advised?
At Westwood dental practice, we are strong believers in evidence based practice. We firmly adhere to National Institute of Clinical Excellence Guidelines which states that lower wisdom teeth should only be extracted if:
- Infection of the gum has occurred two or more times or if there has been one severe episode of infection around the gum.
- The tooth is decayed, or if it is causing decay or gum disease in the adjacent tooth.
Is extraction of wisdom teeth difficult?
The difficulty of the extraction will depend on the position of the wisdom tooth and the nature and curvature of the roots of the wisdom tooth. Each case is individually assessed and your dentist will advise you if you need to be referred to a specialist oral surgeon at the hospital or a specialist oral surgeon in general dental practice. All extractions are carried under local anaesthetic. Extractions may be provided under intra-venous sedation in a hospital setting.
What are the benefits?
- Relief of pain and swelling caused by infection
- Prevention of further spread of infection
All members of our dental team are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your treatment. For more information on wisdom teeth, please visit: