What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to develop, and tend to be appear in the late teens or early 20s. Most people have all 4 wisdom teeth, however occasionally some are missing, and sometimes they do not develop at all.
Our prehistoric human ancestors had much larger jaws, and therefore they had enough space for wisdom teeth to grow through (erupt) normally. Evolutionary and diet changes now mean that we don’t require our wisdom teeth, and often there is not enough room for them to completely erupt.
The term impacted is used to describe a wisdom tooth that is stuck in the jaw, or erupts in an abnormal position, due to a lack of space.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
If a wisdom tooth does not have enough space to grow into the mouth behind the other molar teeth, it can become partially or fully trapped under the gum tissue. This is called impaction. The most commonly impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth (third molars) and the canine (eye) teeth.
Potential problems with wisdom teeth
Potential problems with wisdom teeth include pain and infection, dental caries (decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease) affecting the wisdom tooth or adjacent teeth, resorption of neighbouring teeth, cyst formation around the wisdom tooth, predisposition to jaw fracture during contact sports, and potential interference with orthodontic treatment.
Your dentist or Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon can discuss your individual situation and make a recommendation that takes into account the risks and benefits of treatment.
What does removal of wisdom teeth involve?
During wisdom tooth surgery your surgeon makes an incision to open the gums around the tooth. The tooth may be divided into sections and a small portion of bone may need to be removed, to allow the removal of the tooth and the roots.
Wisdom tooth surgery can be carried out using local anaesthetic (numbing) where suitable, or with intravenous sedation (twilight sedation) or general anaesthetic (asleep) for more complex situations, or when the patient prefers.
Can I leave my wisdom teeth where they are?
A wisdom tooth can be kept in place if it:
- Has erupted completely
- Is normally aligned
- Functions normally without pain
- Is not affected by decay or gum disease
- Can be easily maintained with normal oral hygiene measures
If the decision is made to leave your wisdom teeth in place, then you will need to continue to see your dentist for regular check-ups, cleaning, and x-rays to ensure that these wisdom teeth don’t develop problems.
When do we need to remove wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth may need to be removed if they are
- Developing cavities
- Causing gum disease
- At risk of damaging neighbouring teeth
- Difficult to keep clean and maintain long term
- Getting in the way of orthodontic treatment
An impacted, or partially impacted, wisdom tooth can cause jaw pain, gum inflammation, food trapping, and bad breath. Your dentist or Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon will determine the need for wisdom tooth removal by assessing the position of your wisdom teeth, checking your overall oral health, and taking x-rays.
What are the risks of surgery?
Wisdom tooth surgery is planned to minimise risks. However, as with any type of surgery, complications can sometimes occur. These include infection, bleeding, dry socket, sinus problems, and injury to nerves or adjacent teeth.
Your dentist or surgeon can discuss the risks that apply to your individual situation.
For Wisdom Teeth services please contact any of our friendly Sunshine Coast dental practices in Bli Bli, Caloundra, Kawana, Maroochydore, and Northlakes, book on-line now, or feel free to call or email our wonderful reception teams.
If you already know your situation is complex, an initial consultation fee with Dr William Huynh (Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon) is $90 with a Medicare rebate of $70 (Medicare item number 104) for Medicare eligible patients. Please note that you will need to pay in full and claim back the Medicare rebate.
For an Initial Wisdom Teeth Consultation with our Maxillofacial Surgeon please contact any of our friendly Sunshine Coast and Northlakes dental practices in Bli Bli, Caloundra, Kawana, Maroochydore, and Northlakes, book on-line now, or feel free to call or email our wonderful reception teams.