Most people associate wisdom teeth with pain at one point or another, but what exactly does it mean to have impacted wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, can start erupting as early as 15 years old. In most cases however, this usually happens between age 18 and 25. Some people do not notice these teeth coming through as they are positioned well and able to come through to the surface with ease. Others can notice some discomfort or even pain as they push to the surface. It is important to maintain regular dental visits to record the movement of your wisdom teeth, and have a plan in place for managing any problems that may occur.
Three primary warning signs of impacted wisdom teeth that need treatment:
- Swollen, tender, red or bleeding gums at the back of the mouth/behind the last tooth
- Swelling around the jaw
Secondary, additional symptoms may include:
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Unpleasant breath
- Swollen glands
- Ear ache
- Headaches of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), the connection between the jaw and skull
So what can we do about your painful wisdom teeth?
First, we like to take a full mouth x-ray, commonly known as an OPG (orthopantomogram) to get an idea of where your wisdom teeth are sitting in your upper and lower jaw.
We can do this at our practice in Moorabbin for your convenience, to save you multiple visits!
An OPG looks like this:
From this x-ray, we can see that this patient has not only got badly impacted upper and lower wisdom teeth, they also have 3 extra wisdom teeth! This is extremely rare, and we would only see this in fewer than 1% of people.
Taking an OPG is the best first step to see what we need to do with your wisdom teeth, because it shows us what is hiding under the surface.
After that, your dentist at 24/7 Dental will be able to assess the best way to remove your wisdom teeth. Our aim is to give you the most comfortable and safe treatment possible.
When do we refer to an oral surgeon?
- If you express an interest in having all four teeth removed at the same time, or if you wish to be asleep for the procedure (general anaesthetic)
- If your wisdom teeth are too impacted (usually a distal, horizontal or bony impaction) for us to be able to remove safely using our equipment.
- If your wisdom teeth are very close to the nerve that runs inside your jaw and there is a risk of damage to the nerve upon removal
Do I really need to get my wisdom teeth removed?
It is a personal choice, and we are not here to force you into removing teeth. Your 24/7 Dentist will take the time to explain to you your options and whether or not removal is necessary.
We are here to give you our professional opinion, but at the end of the day the decision is all yours.
Be aware of some complications that can develop if left untreated, such as:
- Damage to Adjacent Teeth: Wisdom teeth can push on the second molars and cause decay. From this x-ray on the right, you can see that the wisdom tooth is growing sideways into the second molar. Both of these teeth will now require removal.
- Gum Disease and Tooth Decay: Wisdom teeth are prone to infection and decay due to this area of the mouth being rendered difficult to clean. This causes food and bacteria to become trapped between the teeth and gums. We won’t show you a picture of that – it’s not pretty!
- Development of Cysts: Wisdom teeth grow in a sac located within the jaw. Unerupted wisdom teeth can develop can develop an uncomfortable cyst in this sac that can damage the jaw.
Unfortunately neglecting the issues above may lead to more serious complications. As soon as you begin experiencing any of the warning signs outlined above, it is important to schedule an appointment with 24/7 Dentaland address the issue head on.
We are open 365 days a year for your convenience, including all public holidays. Our friendly dentists are waiting to help you for all of your general care and emergency dental needs.