Wisdom teeth are usually the last teeth that we develop as teenagers or adults. They are right at the back of the mouth and are the third set of molars.
For many people, wisdom teeth are a source of discomfort if there is insufficient space in the mouth for them to come through. When a wisdom tooth becomes stuck under the gum due to inadequate space, it is "impacted" and can be prone to tooth decay and other dental complications.
For this reason, many people opt to have their impacted wisdom teeth removed.
What are the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth?
Sometimes an impacted tooth won't cause any pain or discomfort and can remain inside the gum for many years. For other people, it can be a great source of inflammation.
A tooth that does not break through the gum at all is known as "fully impacted." If the tooth comes through slightly, but not all the way, it is "partially impacted." This can also be problematic, as food can get trapped in and around the tooth, as it is difficult to clean well.
An infected impacted tooth can lead to symptoms such as:
- acute to severe pain in the gum and jaw
- inflamed or red gums
- bleeding gums
- halitosis (bad breath)
- a bitter or unpleasant taste in the mouth
- difficulties opening and closing your mouth, or moving your jaw
What does wisdom tooth removal involve?
Having your wisdom teeth removed might take place in a dental clinic, or in a hospital, depending on the procedure, your private health insurance, and what you opt to do.
Regardless, the process is similar and will follow these steps:
1. Apply sedation
Your dentist will advise you on the right level on sedation and will talk about the sedation options available to you. You might be administered nitrous oxide, an oral medication (like valium), or an anesthetic administered via IV. The latter is often chosen by patients as it lessens the likelihood of remembering the procedure at all.
2. Numbing the tooth
Next, the oral surgeon will numb the site of the procedure with a local anesthetic to ensure you don't feel high levels of discomfort during the extraction.
3. Treating the tissue
The dentist will then make an incision in the gum and move aside any gum tissue that is covering the impacted tooth until the tooth is visible.
4. Removal of bone
Sometimes the wisdom tooth will also be impacted under the bone, and your dentist will need to use a drill to remove the bone that is covering the tooth.
5. Loosening the tooth
Once the dentist can see the tooth, they will use their surgical instruments to loosen the tooth from the connective tissues that are holding it in place. At this point, the tooth may also need to be cut into sections to stop it from breaking before it can be fully removed from its socket.
When the dentist is satisfied that the tooth is sufficiently loose, it can be removed. The dentist will take out the entire tooth, and will stitch the gum closed to ensure no bacteria can get inside.
7. Finishing the procedure
Once the procedure is over, you will be bought out of your sedation and the dentist will ensure that blood is clotting in the treated area before you can go home.
Are there any complications for wisdom tooth removal?
Sometimes, wisdom tooth removal can have some follow on complications. Dry socket is a common after-symptom of extraction when the blood clot doesn't form properly in the socket where the tooth has been taken out, or it forms, but then later becomes dislodged.
Healing is delayed due to the lack of a clot and can cause associated pain, as well as a bad odour in the mouth. If you feel you are suffering from a dry clot you need to return to see your oral surgeon so they can medicate the socket.
Another complication that can happen after wisdom tooth extraction is paresthesia. This is where the impacted wisdom tooth was located very close to the surrounding nerves.
If these nerves are bruised or damaged during the removal process, you might feel a numbness of the tongue, chin, lip or other areas of the face. The duration of paresthesia ranges from days, to weeks, to months, and is sometimes permanent.
How much does wisdom teeth extraction cost?
The cost of wisdom teeth extraction varies based on a number of factors including how impacted the tooth is, and what type of sedation you choose. Generally, it ranges between $230 to $340 dollars.
To speak to someone about the process and find out what is right for you, or to book an appointment, you can call our Box Hill dental clinic please call (03) 8547 9556. You can also request an appointment online and our friendly staff will call you back to confirm ASAP.