Decoding Wisdom Teeth: Their Purpose, Problems, and Extraction Options

Wisdom teeth, known as third molars, are the last to emerge in the human mouth. They typically appear during the late teens or early twenties, marking a significant milestone in dental development. Most individuals possess four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. However, it’s not uncommon for some people to have fewer or none.

What Purpose Do They Serve?

Anthropologists and evolutionary biologists believe wisdom teeth are vital to our ancestors’ diets. Early humans had larger jaws, which accommodated these third molars necessary for grinding and chewing rough foods such as roots, nuts, and unprocessed grains. However, our jaws gradually became smaller as our diets evolved, rendering wisdom teeth less essential for modern-day eating habits.

Today, the presence of wisdom teeth can present several challenges. In many cases, the human jaw does not have sufficient space to accommodate these additional molars, leading to various oral health issues. Wisdom teeth often become impacted, meaning they cannot emerge fully due to lack of space. This can cause discomfort, pain, infection, and potential damage to neighbouring teeth.

How Do I Know if I Have Wisdom Teeth?

Determining whether you have wisdom teeth is a question many individuals ponder. Several indicators can help you identify the presence of these third molars. Firstly, age plays a crucial role, as wisdom teeth typically emerge during the late teenage years or early twenties. Regular dental check-ups and X-rays are essential in assessing the development and positioning of your wisdom teeth. Symptoms such as pain or discomfort at the back of the mouth, swollen gums, or difficulty in fully opening your mouth may indicate the presence of impacted or erupting wisdom teeth. Suppose you experience any of these signs or have concerns. In that case, it is advisable to consult with a dental professional who can provide a thorough examination and offer appropriate guidance based on your specific situation.

When Is It a Good Idea to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled?

Having your wisdom teeth pulled, or extracted, may be recommended in certain situations to preserve your oral health and prevent potential complications. Here are some instances when it is often a good idea to consider wisdom tooth extraction:

  • Pain and Discomfort: If your wisdom teeth are causing persistent pain, discomfort, or inflammation, it indicates that extraction may be necessary. Pain can result from various issues, including impaction, infection, or overcrowding, and extracting the problematic wisdom teeth can alleviate these symptoms.
  • Impaction and Alignment Issues: Wisdom teeth often become impacted, meaning they do not have enough space for emerging through the gums fully. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to various problems, such as infection, cyst formation, and damage to adjacent teeth. Additionally, they may cause crowding and misalignment of your existing teeth, impacting your bite and overall dental health.
  •  Dental Development: Wisdom teeth can hinder the proper development of neighbouring teeth. Their emergence can exert pressure, causing shifting and crowding of adjacent teeth. Extraction may be recommended to prevent these issues and preserve the alignment of your teeth.
  • Dental Treatments: Wisdom teeth can interfere with other dental procedures, such as orthodontic treatment (braces) or restorative dental work. In such cases, it may be advisable to remove the wisdom teeth to create adequate space and ensure the success and longevity of the ongoing or planned dental treatments.
  • Jaw-related Concerns: Sometimes, wisdom teeth can contribute to jaw-related problems, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder or the development of cysts or tumours in the jawbone. Removing the wisdom teeth can help alleviate these issues and prevent further complications.

How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The procedure for removing wisdom teeth, also known as wisdom tooth extraction, typically involves several steps to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Before the extraction, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination and may order X-rays to assess your wisdom teeth’ position, size, and complexity.

On the day of the procedure, local anaesthesia, sedation, or general anaesthesia may be administered to ensure your comfort throughout the process. The choice of anaesthesia depends on the complexity of the extraction, your personal preference, and your dentist’s recommendation.

Once you are comfortably numbed or sedated, the dentist will make an incision in the gum tissue to access the wisdom tooth. Sometimes, a small amount of bone surrounding the tooth may need to be removed to facilitate extraction. The tooth may be extracted in one piece or divided into smaller sections for easier removal.

After removing the wisdom tooth, the extraction site is thoroughly cleaned, and any debris or fragments are cleared away. If necessary, dissolvable stitches may be used to close the incision. Gauze pads are placed over the extraction site to control bleeding and promote clot formation.

Post-extraction instructions and guidelines will be provided, including information on pain management, swelling reduction techniques, diet restrictions, and oral hygiene practices. It is vital to follow these instructions carefully to ensure proper healing and minimise the risk of complications.

While recovery time can vary from person to person, most individuals experience gradual improvement within a few days to a week after the procedure. Your dentist or oral surgeon will schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor the healing process and address concerns.

Remember, every individual’s situation is unique, and the specifics of the wisdom tooth extraction procedure may vary based on factors such as the position and condition of the teeth, the complexity of the extraction, and the expertise of the dental professional performing the

procedure. It is essential to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon for personalised advice and guidance regarding your wisdom tooth extraction.

Wisdom Teeth Anaesthesia Options

When it comes to wisdom tooth extraction, different anaesthesia options are available to ensure your comfort and manage any potential pain or anxiety during the procedure. Here are the various anaesthesia options commonly used:

  • Local Anaesthesia: This involves the injection of numbing medication, such as lidocaine, directly into the area around the wisdom teeth. This anaesthesia option blocks the nerves in the immediate vicinity, temporarily numbing the area and preventing pain during the extraction. While you may still be awake during the procedure, you will not feel any pain in the treated area.
  • General Anaesthesia: General anaesthesia is a deeper level of sedation that renders you completely unconscious during the wisdom tooth extraction. It is typically administered through intravenous (IV) medications or inhalation agents. Under general anaesthesia, you are unaware and do not experience any pain or discomfort throughout the procedure. General anaesthesia is commonly used for complex wisdom tooth extractions or individuals with severe dental anxiety.
  • Sedation: Sedation involves the administration of medications to induce a relaxed and calm state during the wisdom tooth extraction. There are different levels of sedation available:
  1. Mild Sedation: Also known as minimal sedation, mild sedation involves using oral medications or nitrous oxide (laughing gas). This level of sedation helps you relax while remaining conscious and aware. You may experience a mild euphoric feeling and reduced anxiety during the procedure.
  2. Moderate Sedation: Moderate sedation, often achieved through intravenous (IV) medications, induces a deeper level of relaxation. While you may still be conscious, your awareness of the procedure is significantly reduced, and you may have limited memory of the event. Moderate sedation provides better pain control and eases anxiety.
  3. Heavy Sedation: Heavy sedation, also called deep sedation, places you in a semi-conscious state. You will still be able to respond to commands, but your level of consciousness is significantly reduced. This level of sedation is typically achieved with a combination of IV medications and inhaled agents, providing greater pain control and relaxation.

What To Expect After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

After wisdom teeth removal, it is normal to experience some post-operative effects as part of the healing process. Here’s what you can generally expect:

  • Bleeding: It is common to have slight bleeding or oozing from the extraction sites for the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with gauze pads to bite down on to help control the bleeding. Following their instructions on changing the gauze and applying gentle pressure is essential. If bleeding persists or becomes excessive, contact your dental professional.
  • Pain: Discomfort and pain are typical after wisdom teeth removal, especially during the initial days. Your dentist or oral surgeon will prescribe or recommend pain medications to manage discomfort. It’s essential to take the prescribed medication as directed. Applying cold packs or ice packs to the outside of your face near the extraction sites can also help reduce swelling and numb the area, providing some relief.
  • Swelling and Bruising: Swelling is common after wisdom teeth removal and may peak within the first two to three days. Applying cold packs intermittently can help minimise swelling. In some cases, you may notice normal bruising on your cheeks or neck, which will gradually fade over time.

If you feel your wisdom teeth are impacted and require extraction, consult us. The dental experts at Studio Smiles will examine your mouth, recommend if extraction is needed, and carry out the procedure carefully to offer comfort. Please book a consultation with us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Everyone Have to Get Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth removal depends on oral health, space, impaction, and future dental procedures. Extraction isn’t necessary for everyone, but pain, infection, crowding, and potential complications may indicate the need for removal. Consult your dentist to determine the best course of action.

Is Studio Smiles wisdom teeth removal covered by insuWhy Do People Get Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?rance?

People get their wisdom teeth removed for various reasons, including pain, impaction, infection, damage to adjacent teeth, overcrowding, and potential complications. Extraction is often recommended to prevent these issues and promote oral health.

Are You Awake When You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

In most cases, during wisdom teeth removal, patients are not fully awake. The procedure is typically performed under some form of anaesthesia, ranging from local anaesthesia to IV sedation or general anaesthesia. The choice of anaesthesia depends on the complexity of the extraction and the patient’s preference. The dental professional will discuss the options and determine the most suitable anaesthesia method for the individual’s comfort and safety.

Why Not Worry About Wisdom Teeth Removal?

There is no need to worry about wisdom teeth removal because it is a common dental procedure performed by experienced professionals. Removing wisdom teeth can prevent oral health issues, such as impaction, infection, and overcrowding. The procedure is typically done under anaesthesia to ensure comfort, and the recovery period is manageable with proper care and follow-up. Dental professionals will guide you through the process, address any concerns, and ensure your well-being throughout the procedure.

What Is the Purpose of Wisdom Teeth?

The purpose of wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, is believed to be related to our ancestors’ diet, which consisted of rougher and tougher foods. Wisdom teeth were used for chewing and grinding plant-based foods. However, the human jaw has become smaller in modern times, and our diets have changed, making wisdom teeth unnecessary and often problematic. They can cause overcrowding, impaction, and infection, so they are usually removed.

What Are the Most Common Treatments for Wisdom Teeth?

The most common treatments for wisdom teeth include extraction, partial removal, antibiotics for infection, and pain management. Extraction is the primary treatment for wisdom teeth causing pain, impaction, or other issues. Partial removal may be done for partial eruption or impacted teeth. Antibiotics are prescribed for associated infections, and pain relievers help manage discomfort. Treatment depends on factors like tooth position and development, and consulting a dental professional is essential for personalised recommendations.

How to Treat Wisdom Tooth Infection?

Treating a wisdom tooth infection typically involves a combination of antibiotics and dental intervention. Antibiotics are prescribed to control and eliminate the infection. The dentist or oral surgeon may also recommend a dental procedure, such as a wisdom tooth extraction, to remove the source of the infection and prevent its recurrence. It is essential to seek professional dental care for proper diagnosis and personalised treatment of a wisdom tooth infection.

How Many Wisdom Teeth Do We Have?

On average, most people have four wisdom teeth. This third set of molars typically emerges in the late teens or early twenties. However, having fewer or even more than four wisdom teeth is possible, as the number can vary from person to person.

Can You Keep Your Wisdom Teeth?

Individuals can sometimes keep their wisdom teeth if they are healthy, fully erupted, properly positioned, and do not cause any issues. However, many people undergo wisdom tooth extraction as a preventive measure to address problems such as impaction, crowding, decay, or gum disease. A dental professional can assess the condition of your wisdom teeth and recommend whether extraction is necessary or if they can be retained.

How Can I Care for My Wisdom Teeth?

To care for your wisdom teeth, follow these tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, including your wisdom teeth.
  • Floss daily to clean between your teeth, including the area around your wisdom teeth.
  • Rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash after brushing and flossing.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.
  • Pay attention to signs of problems like pain, swelling, or infection and consult your dentist if needed.

Maintaining good oral hygiene and seeking professional dental care is essential for the health of your wisdom teeth. Sometimes, wisdom tooth extraction may be necessary for optimal oral health.

At What Age Do You Get Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth typically erupt between 17 and 25. However, in some individuals, they may erupt even in their 40s or 50s.

How Long Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Take?

The duration of wisdom teeth removal can vary depending on factors such as the case’s complexity, the teeth’ position, and whether they are impacted. It is obvious that the duration of extraction procedure also depends on whether you get 2 or 4 teeth removed. On average, the procedure typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

How Long Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Take to Heal?

The healing time after wisdom teeth removal varies from person to person, but generally, it takes about one to two weeks for the initial healing process. However, complete healing of the extraction site and surrounding tissues can take several weeks to a few months.

Does Everyone Have Wisdom Teeth?

Only some have wisdom teeth. Some individuals may have all four wisdom teeth, some may have only one or two, and others may not have any wisdom teeth at all. The presence and development of wisdom teeth can vary among individuals.

Do They Break Your Jaw to Remove Wisdom Teeth?

No, breaking the jaw is not typically necessary to remove wisdom teeth. The extraction process involves making an incision in the gum tissue, removing any bone blocking access to the tooth, and then carefully extracting the wisdom tooth. In some instances where the tooth is impacted or positioned in a complex manner, some bone removal may be required. However, breaking the jaw is rare and is usually reserved for difficult situations involving specific medical considerations.

How to Heal Nerve Damage After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

If you experience nerve damage after wisdom teeth removal, consult your dental professional for guidance. Nerve damage can cause numbness or altered sensation. Follow their advice, be patient for healing, take prescribed medications, maintain good oral hygiene, protect the area, and consider physical therapy if recommended. Seek professional guidance for the best outcome.

What Makes You Loopy After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Using anaesthesia, specifically IV sedation or general anaesthesia, during wisdom teeth removal can cause a feeling of being loopy or drowsy.

Can You Get Impacted Wisdom Teeth Removed Without Anaesthesia?

Impacted wisdom teeth removal is typically performed under anaesthesia to ensure patient comfort and minimise pain during the procedure. Local anaesthesia, conscious sedation, or general anaesthesia are commonly used to numb the area or induce sleep, depending on the case’s complexity and patient preference.

Average Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal with Anaesthesia?

The average cost of wisdom teeth removal with anaesthesia can vary depending on several factors, such as the extraction’s complexity and the dental practice’s location. On average, the cost can be around $800 to extract one wisdom tooth.

What Type of Anaesthesia Is Best for Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The anaesthesia for wisdom teeth removal depends on complexity, patient preference, and professional recommendation. Options include:

  • Local anaesthesia (numbing the area).
  • Sedation anaesthesia (relaxation or drowsiness).
  • General anaesthesia (deep sleep).

Consult a dental professional to determine the best choice based on your needs, medical history, and procedure complexity.

Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Require Full Anaesthesia?

Wisdom teeth removal does not always require full anaesthesia. The type of anaesthesia used depends on various factors, such as the complexity of the extraction, the patient’s preference, and the dentist or oral surgeon’s recommendation.

Can I Get My Wisdom Teeth Extracted While Breastfeeding?

It is generally safe to undergo wisdom teeth removal while breastfeeding, but it is essential to discuss your specific situation with your dentist and healthcare provider. They can provide personalised advice based on factors such as the medications used during the procedure and the potential impact on breastfeeding.

Can I Get My Wisdom Teeth Extracted During Pregnancy?

Avoiding elective dental procedures, including wisdom teeth removal, is generally recommended during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters. The second trimester is considered the safest time for non-emergency dental treatments. However, every pregnancy is unique, and there may be situations where wisdom teeth removal becomes necessary due to pain or infection. In such cases, you must consult your dentist and obstetrician to understand the potential risks and benefits and make the right decision.

Can You Get All 4 Wisdom Teeth Removed at Once?

Yes, having all four wisdom teeth removed during a single surgical procedure is common. Extracting all four wisdom teeth at once can be more convenient and efficient, reducing the need for multiple surgeries and recovery periods. However, the decision to remove all four wisdom teeth at once depends on various factors, such as the patient’s oral health, the position of the teeth, and the dental professional’s recommendations. They will assess your situation and guide your case’s best approach.

Can You Get Braces Without Removing Wisdom Teeth?

Sometimes, it is possible to get braces without removing wisdom teeth. However, it depends on several factors, including the size and alignment of your jaws, the position of your wisdom teeth, and the severity of your orthodontic issues. If your wisdom teeth are fully erupted, properly aligned, and not causing any problems or crowding, they may not need to be removed. Your dentist will evaluate your situation and suggest the most appropriate treatment plan, which may or may not involve the removal of wisdom teeth.

Can You Get TMJ From Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is not directly caused by wisdom teeth removal. However, some individuals may experience temporary jaw discomfort or changes in jaw movement after the procedure. This can occur due to the jaw’s positioning during the extraction or swelling and inflammation in the surrounding tissues. In rare cases, wisdom teeth extraction may exacerbate pre-existing TMJ issues.