Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in our mouths and only appear between ages 16-24 years of age. As most of our jaws do not have enough space for it, they often do not come fully through and are not functional and may cause pain and infection. The term used to describe this situation is that the teeth are “impacted” and the resultant infection is termed “pericoronitis”. In most cases, a surgery is required as the tooth is usually partly covered by the overlying gum and partially buried within the jawbone.
Do wisdom teeth always need to be removed?
No, it is not always necessary to remove wisdom teeth if they are in a functional position, are well cleaned and not causing any pain or infection. However, as most patients have jaws that are too small to accommodate all their teeth, wisdom teeth being the last tooth to erupt often emerges in an awkward position and are difficult to keep clean. This results in food residue being trapped below the overlying gum leading to infection of the surrounding gums as well as decay of the molar tooth in front of the wisdom tooth. In this case, it should be removed.
What to Expect
The procedure takes around an hour and is performed under local anaesthesia though many patients prefer the comfort of being either sedated or to be completely asleep under general anaesthesia.
A surgical procedure is usually required and the gums covering the buried tooth pushed back to expose the tooth.
As the angle of the tooth is usually unfavourable, it cannot be easily removed. A dental bur is used to divide the tooth to enable it to be removed in 2 or 3 sections.
The gums are then stitched back into position.
Is Wisdom Teeth Surgery Painful?
You may feel some minor discomfort during the procedure as even though the local anaesthetic that is given blocks pain pathways, you will still be able to feel some pressure and hear the sound of the drilling and the instruments. You will also need to keep your mouth open during the duration of the surgery. In most patients, the lower wisdom teeth may take longer to remove and require more manipulation. This sometimes leads to cracks in our lips or the corner of your mouth. You will usually be given painkillers to take before the procedure so that you will be comfortable after the surgery.
Can the surgery be Completely Pain-free?
Yes, you can have a complete pain-free experience as the surgery can be performed under intravenous sedation in the dental clinic or under general anaesthesia within an operating theatre. For most patients, intravenous sedation is preferred as it is comfortable and the recovery is fast. The mix of drugs given will help you relax, sleep and eliminate pain. The anaesthetist will give you a small injection to numb your hand before inserting a tube through which the medication will be dispensed. Our centre has all the requisite equipment to monitor you during the entire procedure.
How long does it take to recover from the Surgery?
After the operation, you may feel uncomfortable but this can be contained with the prescribed painkillers. Expect some oozing from the surgical site which can be controlled by applying direct pressure with a clean gauze. Some swelling and bruising is also to be expected for a few days after the surgery and you will be given 3-5 days off work. You can resume normal activity within a day but should avoid exercise and swimming. A soft diet is advised and can commence after the numbness from the local anaesthesia wears off, usually after 2-3 hours to avoid biting your lip or tongue inadvertently.
Is the Procedure Safe
The surgery is safe as there are no major blood vessels in the oral cavity. However your dentist will still exercise the utmost care during the surgery. The only major complication is possible damage to the nerves which supply the lips, cheek, teeth and tongue. Most other problems are temporary and reversible. It is also safe to undergo sedation and general anaesthesia as it is always carried out and supervised by experienced specialist medical anaesthetists and trained nurses. Our operating theatre also meets international recognised safety standards of air exchange and quality.