Wisdom Teeth Complications
Wisdom teeth will commonly appear in the mouth between the ages of 17 to 25. While erupting into the mouth wisdom teeth may cause short term pain, very similar to pain experience from eruption of other teeth which is normal. However sometimes wisdom teeth may have come through only partially and this can result in formation of infection around the tooth, which is known as pericoronitis. In other cases an impacted wisdom tooth that has not fully come through can cause decay and disease to the neighbouring tooth.
The wisdom teeth grow at the back of your gums and are the last teeth to come through. Most people have four wisdom teeth – one in each corner
Although removal of wisdom teeth were common practice in the past, nowadays dentist follow national guidelines when it comes to decide whether a problematic wisdom tooth needs to be removed or not. There are risks involved with extraction of wisdom teeth and for this reason any extraction benefit should be higher than risks involved to the patient.
At Shades Clinic we follow NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines. You can read about NICE guidelines on their website: www.nice.org.uk
Wisdom tooth may be removed if there is swelling, infection, difficulty swallowing or breathing, fever, or intense pain experienced from the tooth. In severe cases your dentist may decide to remove the tooth after one episode of infection, however in majority of cases an early management and oral hygienist instructions may resolve the problem. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help keep an infection from getting worse or spreading for a very short while. Warm saltwater rinse or antibacterial mouth rinse and OTC painkillers can be used as short-term remedies for tooth pain until more definitive treatment can be obtained.
When to see a dentist
You should make an appointment to see your dentist if you’re experiencing severe pain or discomfort from your wisdom teeth. Your dentist will check your teeth and advise you on whether they need to be removed.
If your dentist thinks you may need your wisdom teeth removed, they’ll usually carry out an x-ray of your mouth. This gives them a clearer view of the position of your teeth.
As with any teeth problems, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible, rather than waiting for your regular dental check-up.
Why are wisdom teeth removed?
Your wisdom teeth don’t usually need to be removed if they’re impacted but aren’t causing any problems. This is because there’s no proven benefit of doing this and it carries the risk of complications.
Sometimes, wisdom teeth that have become impacted or haven’t fully broken through the surface of the gum can cause dental problems. Food and bacteria can get trapped around the edge of the wisdom teeth, causing a build-up of plaque, which can lead to:
- tooth decay (dental caries) – this develops when plaque begins to break down the surface of your tooth. When tooth decay becomes more advanced, it leaves holes (cavities) in the tooth, which can affect the surrounding teeth.
- gum disease (also called gingivitis or periodontal disease) – this occurs when plaque releases toxins (poisons) that irritate your gums, making them red, swollen and painful. Gum disease can also affect the surrounding teeth and the bone around the wisdom teeth.
- pericoronitis – when plaque causes an infection of the soft tissue that surrounds the tooth.
- cellulitis – a bacterial infection in the cheek, tongue or throat.
- abscess – when pus collects in your wisdom teeth or the surrounding tissue due to a bacterial infection.
- cysts and benign growths – very rarely, a wisdom tooth that hasn’t cut through the gum develops a cyst (a fluid-filled swelling).
Many of these problems can be treated with treatment such as antibiotics and antiseptic mouthwash, so removing your wisdom teeth is only recommended when other treatment hasn’t worked.
How wisdom teeth are removed
Your dentist may remove your wisdom teeth or they may refer you to a specialist surgeon for hospital treatment.
Before the procedure, you’ll usually be given a local anaesthetic injection to numb the area around the tooth. You’ll feel some pressure just before the tooth is removed, as your dentist or oral surgeon needs to widen the tooth socket by rocking the tooth back and forth.
In some cases a cut may be needed in your gum, and the tooth may need to be cut into smaller pieces before it’s removed.
The time it takes to remove the tooth will vary. Some procedures only take a few minutes, whereas others can take 20 minutes or longer.
After your wisdom teeth have been removed, you may experience swelling and discomfort, both on the inside and outside of your mouth. This is usually worse for the first three days, but it can last for up to two weeks.
As with all surgery, there are risks associated with removing a wisdom tooth. These include infection or delayed healing, both of which are more likely if you smoke during your recovery.
Another possible complication is “dry socket”, which is a dull, aching sensation in your gum or jaw, and sometimes a bad smell or taste coming from the empty tooth socket. Dry socket is more likely if you don’t follow the after-care instructions given by your dentist.
There’s also a small risk of nerve damage, which can cause pain or a tingling sensation and numbness in the tongue, lower lip, chin, teeth and gums. This is usually temporary, but can be permanent in rare cases.
If you are concerned or you experience pain from your wisdom tooth book an appointment with one of our highly qualified dentists for a consultation or an emergency appointment.