Do wisdom teeth have to be removed?

Share on:

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, begin to erupt between the ages of 16 and 24. Some people win the genetic lottery and don’t develop wisdom teeth or don’t develop all four wisdom teeth, while others can have more than the usual four.

Why should wisdom teeth be removed?

It is not always necessary for wisdom teeth to be removed. If wisdom teeth grow into the mouth (referred to as erupting) completely, in a good position and are accessible to brush and floss, then in a lot of cases they are kept and treated like your other molar teeth.

Unfortunately, it is common to have issues as wisdom teeth grow. They can become impacted, meaning they have erupted at an abnormal angle and into the adjacent tooth. Variation in the angulation of the tooth means that they may beomce either partially erupted, with only a small portion able to break through the gum, or completely unerupted. Some people’s jaws are too small for a third molar which also results in the wisdom tooth only partially erupting. These situations can cause food and bacteria to pack around the area leading to decay and damage to the tooth in front of the wisdom tooth (the second molar). Additionally the trapped, partially erupted tooth can easily develop infection in the surrounding pocket of gum due to food and bacteria getting trapped around the tooth. Even wisdom teeth that are fully erupted can be difficult or nearly impossible to clean properly and in these cases are best removed.

What are the symptoms of problem wisdom teeth?

The symptoms of an infection caused by a wisdom tooth include :

  • red and/or inflamed gum around the wisdom tooth
  • swelling either localised next to the tooth or in severe cases, the cheek or face may become swollen
  • bad taste
  • pain
  • fever
  • sore lymph glands under the jaw
  • difficulty swallowing or opening the mouth
Infections caused by wisdom teeth can be treated, but the infection will keep coming back unless the teeth are removed.  If problematic wisdom teeth are not promptly addressed, the damage to the second molar next to the wisdom tooth will gradually increase and the tooth may require significant treatment in order to be saved. Worst case scenario, infections that originate from the wisdom tooth cause spread throughout the body and cause a life-threatening situation requiring hospitalisation
If you think you may have an infection relating to a wisdom tooth, seek advice immediately on 07 34265777.

What should I do if I suspect my wisdom teeth are the cause of my pain?

If you are experiencing any discomfort it is best to arrange an appointment with your Medland dentist as soon as possible. Early interception enables us to minimise the spread of infection and get you out of pain as soon as possible. A full mouth xray called an OPG, will need to be taken so we can appropriately visualise the tooth and plan for its removal.  Referral to a specialist oral maxillofacial surgeon may be required due to the positioning of your wisdom teeth, or if you prefer to have a general anaesthetic for surgery. In many cases however, wisdom teeth can be safely removed by your dentist at Medland Dental Centre avoiding the need for a hospital admission.
We understand that there is rarely a good time to have wisdom teeth removed and will endeavor to give you short term relief. However in some instances, especially if there is severe inflammation or infection present, emergency removal of the wisdom teeth may be necessary. It is very common for people to be anxious about pain and recovery following removal of wisdom teeth and we always endeavor to make your experience as comfortable as possible. This includes local anaesthetic and nitrous oxide ‘happy gas’ at the time of the extraction as well as appropriate pain relief and post-operative care. At Medland Dental Centre our patients’ care and comfort is always our primary concern.