A guide to impacted wisdom teeth
Pain when wisdom teeth erupt from the gums is among the most common dental issues experienced by adults, with up to 90 per cent of members of the public developing impacted wisdom teeth between the ages of 16 and 25.
While a high number of people will endure pain and discomfort when these teeth are coming through, many will grow unnoticed and allow the patient an easy ride.
Individuals who visit their dental professional on a regular basis are unlikely to require treatment for impacted wisdom teeth. Appointments with an emergency dentist could see patients receive regular X-rays to monitor the type of development the wisdom teeth have reached.
If necessary, individuals can then be referred to a specialist before impacted wisdom teeth start to cause any pain.
What are impacted wisdom teeth?
While many emergency dentistry patients may believe the primary cause for extracting wisdom teeth is due to overcrowding in the mouth, the issue can become significantly more complicated if the problem progresses.
In some cases, the pearly whiles can erupt horizontally, angled inwards, outwards or backwards, while the usual growth causes problems due to pockets surrounding the wisdom teeth and those on the adjacent areas that collect debris and bring on decay.
Due to the difficulty in reaching wisdom teeth during regular brushing, the areas are increasingly susceptible to bacteria, making them much more vulnerable to many dental health issues.
Patients who require the removal of one or more wisdom teeth may find that some are unaffected by the same problem, with post-operative recovery more painful for those having several extracted during the same procedure.
What does the procedure entail?
The type of procedure required depends entirely on the location of the wisdom teeth. Those that have erupted into the gum may be removed during a simple sitting involving the tissue being sliced, which is one of the more straightforward types of treatment.
Others may find the pearly whites have become partially trapped in the bone, which can be more difficult to remove. Those who attend regular appointments with a dental professional may find this issue is easier to monitor and resolve than individuals who visit their dentist sporadically.
When a patient has been referred to an oral surgeon, an appointment will be made for them to undergo a pre-operative consultation, which will determine the best course of action to take to tackle the painful problem. During this process, X-rays will be reviewed and the procedure will be discussed in a bid to alleviate any worries or concerns experienced by the individual.
Patients are asked not to eat or drink for 24 hours before their oral operation, while a friend or relative should be notified to carry out the journey home.
Wisdom teeth are usually removed under general anaesthetic, with the procedure often taking around one hour to carry out and an additional 30 minutes to recover from the anaesthetic. Following this, patients are expected to feel tired for one day after the surgery.
During the procedure, the oral specialist will expose the wisdom tooth that needs to be extracted by slicing through the gum and lifting it away. The surgeon may cut some of the surrounding bone away if the tooth has become encased.
When the tooth has been removed, the gum tissue will be moved back into place and held in position with dissolvable sutures.
While some patients may be asked to stay in hospital overnight, the majority of individuals will receive the treatment through an outpatient service. After the operation, some swelling and tenderness may be experienced in the area around the jaw and gums.
Additionally, some common side effects may be felt during the day after the procedure, with sporadic bleeding extremely common from the empty tooth socket. Patients are advised to hold a cotton pad over the bleeding socket and bite down as hard as they can if this occurs.
Alternatively, some patients may find they have some bruising on their jaw or cheek, which is more common among those who have had a number of wisdom teeth out at the same time. This can also bring on stiffness, which is usually resolved through waiting until the swelling is reduced.
In these cases, consumption of softer foods for the first few days is highly recommended to reduce any discomfort and the use of an icepack may also help to reduce the swelling and sooth the pain.
Could anything go wrong?
Although there are a number of possible complications that could take place during the procedure, oral surgery specialists have usually carried out high numbers of wisdom tooth extractions so patients are often given peace of mind.
While the operation is often an intricate task, damage to the teeth, gums or jaw bone surrounding the wisdom teeth can occur in some cases.
Additionally, some patients may experience short-term numbness in their lips, tongue and mouth after the extraction takes place. If nerves are damaged during the surgery, the same issue can occur. Individuals are recommended to contact their dentist as soon as possible if the numb feeling fails to subside.
In some cases, patients may develop a condition known as dry socket, which occurs when a blood clot does not form properly in the area from which a wisdom tooth has been extracted. This can lead to inflammation and pain, but is usually treated simply with the use of a dressing.
Some patients may find their tooth becomes infected following an extraction, with a high temperature among the most common symptoms of this issue. Antibiotics can be prescribed for people suffering from this problem.
On rare occasions, patients may experience complications with their jaw bone, joint alignment or sinuses. Leaving a small part of the tooth behind can also occur, which could potentially causing an infection.
How should I look after my teeth after surgery?
Patients should ensure they continue to carry out an effective routine following an oral health procedure. However, pearly whites should be treated gently around the affected area to prevent further pain.
While it is important to ensure teeth are carefully looked after following an operation, it is more important to make sure they are strong and healthy before, which – in many cases – prevents the requirement for surgery.
How do I improve my oral health?
Individuals with a high standard of oral health will find their pearly whites are kept clean and free of debris with gum tissue firmly held against teeth, healthy tissue does not hurt or bleed when brushing or flossing takes place.
Additionally, emergency dentistry patients who maintain a high standard of oral health may find they never or rarely experience problems with bad breath.
Maintaining an oral hygiene routine is one of the most important things an individual can carry out to ensure their teeth and gums remain in good condition for as long as possible. This includes daily preventative care through effective brushing and flossing, which can stop problems from developing before they become more serious.
Additionally, health-conscious members of the public should eat a balanced diet and limit snack intake between main meals to ensure pearly whites are clean and bacteria is unable to build up on the teeth.
Using dental products that contain fluoride is also an effective way of ensuring protective enamel is kept in fine form around the teeth to ward off infection or debris.
The practice is open Seven days a week from 8am to 11pm for routine dentistry and we offer a 24 hour emergency dental walk-in service 365 days a year. You can book a consultation at any time by calling our reception team 24 hours a day on 0208 547 9997 or contact us during our working hours by email.