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There’s a belief that wisdom comes with age. Is that why we get wisdom teeth when we’re older? Most of us would like to think that way, but the reality is that not everyone has a wisdom tooth. A study demonstrated that up to 35% of the world’s population does not have wisdom teeth. But that means there are more people with wisdom teeth – and you could be one of them.

 

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

We’ve all heard about wisdom teeth, but do you know what they are? A wisdom tooth is known as a third molar, both in dental and clinical settings. Most people have about four wisdom teeth, which are the last teeth to erupt. Typically, these teeth appear upon reaching 17 years of age, although some people do not have them until they are 25.

There are a few reasons why some people never have wisdom teeth:

  • A Princeton University study concluded that one of the causes of missing wisdom teeth is evolution. According to researchers, the brain expanded over the years, which resulted in the head becoming smaller until it can no longer accommodate the brain and extra teeth. It led to a gradual shift in the human jaws, so a third molar does not form properly.
  • One more study headed by the University of Pennsylvania points to MYH16 as the culprit. This chromosomal mutation is an evolutionary trait that enabled humans to have larger brains. The result is that there was no longer need and space for extra teeth.
  • In some cases, wisdom teeth are in the mouth, specifically concealed under the gums. However, they do not erupt because they are impacted. It means that there is no longer enough space for them to develop. Therefore, they end up staying in the jaw bone.
  • As for those who challenge evolution, dietary changes are perceived to be the leading cause. Dental hygiene also started to exist and improve, which reduced the human’s dependence on wisdom teeth for chewing.

If you or someone you know does not have wisdom teeth, stay calm. There’s nothing to worry about because you can easily chew your food without them. It’s also something to be thankful for, mainly because some individuals could have impacted wisdom teeth.

Dental x-ray that show wisdom teeth.

 

Why You May Need to Have Your Wisdom Tooth Removed

If you search for wisdom teeth on Google, you will see that many of the results describe third molars as “impacted.” This term merely refers to having not enough space for the teeth to grow. Because the teeth cannot erupt in a normal position, they usually end up at an angle. Some even appear in the wrong place in the mouth.

Unfortunately, incorrect positioning of the wisdom teeth can be painful. It is even possible to get an infection out of it, known as pericoronitis. Pain and infection can still be present even if your wisdom teeth grew at a normal angle. That’s why you need to consult with your dentist to know the appropriate treatment for your impacted wisdom teeth.

Most of the time, people have a false sense of security because their wisdom teeth do not cause any pain. However, there is always the potential that problems in the future will arise. For one, wisdom teeth are the farthest in the mouth, so they are difficult to clean. If you cannot care for them correctly, you will end up with decayed molars, which can also affect adjacent teeth.

Before deciding to have your wisdom teeth removed, make sure that you consult with your dentist first. Here at Chelmsford Dental, our dentist will assess the condition of your wisdom teeth. We’ll also review your dental history and check the general health of your mouth. If one or more of the following signs are present, you will most likely have to undergo a wisdom teeth extraction:

  • Your other teeth are moving around because your wisdom teeth are pushing them out of their normal positions.
  • The tooth erupted partially with a flap of gum covering it. This tricky situation requires surgical removal because food will inevitably be trapped there, causing infection.
  • You have impacted teeth that cause pain.
  • Your impacted wisdom teeth do not cause pain, but they are decaying or at risk of decay or infection.
  • If your wisdom teeth are damaging other teeth, such as they are the cause of teeth crowding, it may be time to have them removed.
  • You have a fluid-filled growth or cyst. Your wisdom teeth will likely be extracted to avoid permanent damage to your nerves, teeth, and bone. Tumours could develop if this situation is not addressed promptly.

In reality, not everyone has to have their wisdom teeth removed. Some people live a normal, healthy life even with their wisdom teeth intact. However, most individuals require wisdom teeth removal, which is advised while they are still young. If your third molars are causing issues, don’t delay your trip to the dentist. As you age, it will become more difficult to recover from surgery.

A young man with toothache.

 

Preparing for Your Wisdom Teeth Removal

Before you get a tooth extraction, you may want to check with your insurance provider first. The procedure is not cheap, especially if your wisdom teeth case is complicated. This procedure may be covered under extras, which will help you pay for the cost that can be around $400 per tooth. However, it is difficult to find a standalone insurance policy in Australia that only covers wisdom teeth removal or any dental treatment.

The final cost of the treatment will depend on several factors, including:

  • The simplicity or complexity of the procedure
  • Your private health insurance cover
  • The tools and sedation that will be used
  • Your location
  • Who will extract your teeth where a specialist or surgeon may charge more

If you have insurance and you have booked an appointment, it’s essential to follow specific guidelines, including:

  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages eight hours before the surgery.
  • Brush your teeth, which will reduce bacteria and the risk of infection.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything at least eight hours before the procedure, specifically if you will be given general anaesthesia.
  • Have a responsible adult to drive you home after your appointment.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.

Lastly, don’t panic. You’re in good hands with the Chelmsford Dental team. For most patients, wisdom teeth removal is a painless and comfortable experience.

Reassuring the patient - Chelmsford Dental.

 

What to Expect During a Wisdom Tooth Extraction Procedure?

Before you sit on the chair, we make sure that you are well aware of the entire process. There should not be surprises right from the beginning, which may help you feel less frightened. How the procedure goes will depend on your case. However, it usually involves the following steps:

  1. The dentist will use the most appropriate sedation method for you and will numb the teeth with local anaesthesia. Both will help numb your mouth and keep you relaxed during the procedure.
  2. After you are numb, the dentist will make an incision in the gum, which exposes your tooth.
  3. In situations where there is bone blocking the way, making it difficult to access the tooth root. The bone will also be removed before the tooth.
  4. Some cases are more demanding than others. Certain people have wisdom teeth that are difficult to extract. If you’re among them, your wisdom tooth will be divided into a few pieces before its removal.
  5. Once done, the extraction site will be cleaned.
  6. The remaining debris will also be removed.
  7. Your gum will be stitched up to promote faster healing.
  8. A gauze will then be placed on the site, which will help control bleeding and encourage clotting.

The procedure is usually quick and straightforward. When you are done with the process, make sure you have someone to drive and take you home.

Dental procedure - Chelmsford.

 

Wisdom Teeth Post-Operative Care

Before the procedure, you should already have all the necessary details to get you through the extraction. If you have gotten your teeth removed before, the process for recovery is almost the same with wisdom teeth.

It’s important to talk to your dentist or surgeon in case you have questions, especially after the procedure. Get proper advice on what you should do before you start.

So, let us say that you already had the extraction. What should you do next? There are a few things to bear in mind. First, wisdom teeth are usually big – even more than your other molars. Because of the size, you will most likely require stitches.

Removal can lead to swelling, extreme redness, and bleeding. You can experience all these symptoms after the extraction. These side effects do not last long, generally up to five days or even more. However, you can always take over the counter painkillers, including ibuprofen and paracetamol, for the pain.

You may want to follow the steps below to make sure no problems arise after the extraction:

1. Clean the Wisdom Teeth Holes

You can rinse with salt water, where you simply mix a quarter teaspoon of salt and warm water. Stir and gulp the solution. Gently rock your head from side to side, which should let you move the mixture around your mouth. Try your best not to swish and spit, especially on the first day after the procedure. Now, rinse the solution out by leaning over the sink and opening your mouth.

 

2. Know the Big No-Nos.

You probably already know that you should not smoke after getting your wisdom tooth removed.

Here are more mistakes to avoid:

  • Using straws, which encourage the wound to reopen, preventing it from healing
  • Eating hard foods, which will stick in the socket and can be difficult to remove
  • Missing meals for fear of the pain due to eating
  • Drinking hot coffee and fruit juices
  • Exercising and performing other strenuous activities
  • Going to the sauna after getting your teeth pulled
  • Touching the area with your tongue or finger
  • Smoking

Even if you are already feeling better, you should still avoid the mentioned activities above for at least two weeks.

 

3. Use Ice to Feel Less Pain

When you feel mild pain, you can apply ice to your cheeks. Make sure that you do not put the ice in your mouth, especially on the wound area. Ice can help make you feel a little numb, which is why this home remedy works. It also helps reduce swelling, which is a common side effect of wisdom tooth extraction.

Woman applying cold compress to cheek and taking medication.

 

4. Turn to Medication

If ice does not work and the pain gets worse, you can take the prescribed medication. Follow the instructions given to you, especially with the dosage. Swelling in the mouth and on the cheek is normal. Don’t panic if you cannot fully open your mouth. It’s nothing to be worried about, even if it has been a few days since the surgery.

Painkillers are typically given before you begin the procedure. That way, you can take one, so the pain you feel subsides. Acetaminophen or paracetamol, and ibuprofen are used to relieve pain. Here is a quick comparison between pain medications based on research:

  • 400mg of ibuprofen works better than 1,000mg paracetamol.
  • Combining 1,000mg paracetamol and 400mg ibuprofen can relieve pain better than taking these two on their own.
  • The mentioned combination should only be taken once every eight hours.

Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid is not recommended because this medication will encourage bleeding. Others take enzyme bromelain, but there are no pertinent studies to back its efficacy.

 

5. Know How to Fight Infections

Pain may persist after four or five days. However, if it gets worse and you notice you’re still swelling or you have bad breath, it could mean that the wound is infected. Infection is a common problem resulting from dried blood that comes off sooner, failing to close the wound. Antiseptic mouthwashes can help prevent such a complication. Usually, there is no actual need for antibiotics.

 

6. Stop the Bleeding

Slight bleeding happens to most patients. Sometimes, it can be excessive, but you can control the oozing of blood by placing a gauze pad on the area. Bite it firmly (not hard) for 30 minutes. If bleeding continues, you can take a tea bag, moisten it a little, and bite it like with the gauze pad. Teabags have tannic acid, which helps in forming clots.

 

Should You Brush Your Teeth After a Wisdom Teeth Extraction?

You already know how crucial it is to maintain good oral health. But after the extraction, should you return to your regular oral hygiene routine?

The best way for you to know the answer is to talk to your dentist before attempting to brush your teeth. The answer depends on the situation. Your dentist may give you the green light if your case is simple. However, it would be best to stay more cautious when brushing, especially around tooth sockets. Wait about 24 hours before brushing, as well as rinsing with a mouthwash.

Do you have wisdom teeth that should be removed? We’ll help you deal with them easily and conveniently. Our friendly staff will happily attend to your needs and answer your questions. Contact us here at Chelmsford Dental during clinic hours, and our dentists will take care of your wisdom teeth.