The average adult mouth has 32 teeth. But due to a variety of factors, that number of teeth can be several too many, necessitating wisdom tooth removal. Whether a specific tooth is causing you pain or you need to have all four taken out to minimise discomfort caused by irreversible decay, City Dentists in Wellington can provide you with the ongoing care to resolve any wisdom tooth issue, including surgery and sedation. And when you choose City Dentists to handle wisdom tooth removal as well as aftercare, you're making a truly smart decision.
What do wisdom teeth do and when do they usually appear?
Sitting at the very back of the mouth and assisting the molars with chewing and grinding are your wisdom teeth. Typically, wisdom teeth don't emerge from the gumline for most people until they reach their teenage years. For some, wisdom teeth may take even longer to fully come in, perhaps into their 20s. This is actually the reason why they're called wisdom teeth; just as you get wiser with age, wisdom teeth don't appear until you're older, relatively speaking. Yes, these teeth start to develop and take shape between the years of 7 and 10. But they appear later.
While a number of people go their entire lives with their wisdom teeth in place without a problem, for others, wisdom teeth present nothing but problems — and painful ones at that. For example, the size of a person's jaw can be a deciding factor as to whether wisdom tooth removal may be warranted. A narrow jaw can lead to pain and stiffness, as a wisdom tooth or teeth make their appearance and lead to spatial issues. Depending on how they emerge, wisdom teeth can cause a neighbouring tooth or teeth to shift, resulting in misalignment or an overbite.
In other instances, wisdom teeth may be removed preemptively to allow other teeth to shift to their rightful place. This is common for those who wear braces and is usually done at the direction and recommendation of an orthodontist.
Whatever the ultimate reason for wisdom tooth removal — in terms of why it's warranted — City Dentists in Wellington has the experience, resources and treatment procedures to make the procedure seamless and as pain-free as possible.
Why else might wisdom tooth removal be required?
Pain is the body's way of telling us something is wrong, which is why it's a leading cause for wisdom tooth surgery and removal. Discomfort is one thing, but when it comes to your mouth, pain can be excruciating. But it's not the only explanation for wisdom tooth removal.
Infection - An infection can form on a wisdom tooth as a product of how it emerged. For example, a wisdom tooth may fail to emerge as completely as it's supposed to, causing a flap of gum tissue to grow over it. This can make the tooth difficult to brush and floss properly, leading to an infection from bacteria that grows due to food particles which would normally get brushed away.
While they can cause pain (usually mild discomfort sporadic in nature), infections can eventually spread, affecting not just a neighbouring tooth or teeth, but other parts of the body. Removal may be the only choice depending on the extent of the infection.
Decay - Even when wisdom teeth do emerge normally, wisdom teeth are difficult to properly clean because of where they are located in the mouth — all the way at the very back. If you don't brush as often as you ought to (twice a day at a minimum) or properly remove plaque buildup, it's only a matter of time before decay begins. And once that happens, there's no turning back. The difficulty of access would make any repair temporary.
Impacted wisdom tooth - An impacted wisdom tooth is a tooth that doesn't fully break through the gumline. While any tooth can become impacted, wisdom teeth tend to be the most vulnerable since they're the last to grow in. By that time, since the others are already formed, there may be little space for your mouth to accommodate another tooth — the dental equivalent of "no more room in the inn."
Since impacted teeth are more susceptible to ongoing issues like decay, dental caries, infection and cysts, surgery may be the best option.
Tumour - Generally speaking, wisdom tooth tumours are highly unusual, affecting only about 1% of impacted wisdom teeth. Known as Ameloblastomas, these tumours typically take a long time to come to fruition and may go unnoticed for months, if not years. But once they start to manifest themselves — in the form of pain, or in X-ray imaging — Ameloblastomas may need to be removed immediately through surgery to prevent the tumour from spreading to any vulnerable areas of the body. In addition to swelling, such tumours can actually change a person's facial appearance, including tooth displacement.
Other types of tumours and cysts — which, like Ameloblastomas, usually begin at the jaw or near the wisdom teeth — include Dentigerous cysts, central giant cell granulomas and Odontomas.
While this is not an exhaustive list, they're all issues that can derive from the formation — or deformation — of wisdom teeth. City Dentists in Wellington has the expertise to identify the warning signs and move forward with a treatment plan, customised to your needs as a patient. We treat each one of our patients as if they are our one and only.
How are wisdom teeth removed?
Much like your other teeth, wisdom teeth are firmly entrenched in the jaw line, so much so that it requires oral surgery for them to be fully and safely removed. To ensure the procedure is as comfortable for our patients as possible, we use local anaesthesia. It is slightly different from regular or general anaesthesia. Unlike general anaesthesia, in which patients are asleep during the surgery, local anaesthesia is a more mild treatment and allows the person to remain awake and cognisant throughout the procedure. However, the area around where the surgery takes place is numbed, limiting pain. There may be mild discomfort but nothing that hurts. The anaesthesia takes a bit to kick in so we allow it to settle for a few minutes before proceeding with the procedure.
Our aim as a comprehensive dentist and cosmetic dentistry practice is for our patients to be as relaxed as possible when they come to see us. We know that may be hard to do for wisdom removal, which is why we offer intravenous conscious sedation. Similar in its effect to Valium, a mild sedative is injected into the arm. Like the anaesthesia it may take a bit to work its magic but once it does, it really helps the body relax and feel more at ease. Intravenous conscious sedation is optional but it's there for those who want it to make the surgery more pleasant and less stress-inducing. But we do recommend it for patients undergoing surgical extraction or those who would like the aftercare to be completed more quickly and in fewer visits.
As for the actual surgery itself and the wisdom tooth removal, in order to ensure the third molars are taken out completely, oral surgeons will make small incisions into the jaw and around wisdom teeth. This allows for better access and a cleaner extraction. The cut is traditionally deep enough to also remove microscopic pieces of bone. Stitches will then be applied so the gum is protected and heals faster.
What should you expect after wisdom teeth removal?
Everyone reacts differently to wisdom tooth removal. You may experience mild pain symptoms in your jaw. If it's severe, please don't hesitate to contact us. You may also encounter swelling, particularly of your cheeks. That to is normal and will diminish on its own as the body and jaw heal.
You can be confident that City Dentists will supply you with a full debrief following your procedure so you know what to expect and expedite the recovery process.
If the time has come to get your wisdom teeth out, trust City Dentists in Wellington to get it done. You're making a wise choice by coming to us. To schedule an appointment, or if you have questions, please contact us today.