Wisdom teeth are also known as 3rd molar teeth. They are located at the very back of the mouth and appear later than the other teeth, between the ages of 17 and 25, thus giving the name wisdom teeth. It is most common to have 4 wisdom teeth, however some people don’t get them at all.
How do we know whether we have wisdom teeth?
- Wisdom teeth can be detected by a dental X-ray while they are still under the gums. The x-ray image can also tell us the location and angulation of the wisdom tooth to help us decide whether it needs to be extracted.
- Other signs and symptoms: swelling of gums behind 2nd molars, bleeding and tender gums, jaw pain.
Management of wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth can be left alone or extracted. If extracting, it is generally best to extract them early, as the later you wait the more problems you are likely to encounter.
The common reasons for wisdom tooth extraction include:
- There is not enough room in the jaw for the teeth to erupt.
- They are causing damage to other teeth.
- If you cannot clean the teeth properly, as this leads to a higher chance of disease and infection developing.
What to expect from wisdom tooth extraction?
- Wisdom tooth extraction can be done at the dental clinic, with the patient awake and under local anaesthetic. Alternatively, it can be done by an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, where the patient is able to be put asleep under general anaesthetic.
- Sometimes the extraction is simple, however other times, the gums may have to be cut open gums to remove the tooth.
- What to expect afterwards: it is common to have bleeding on the first day when the anaesthetic wears off. The gums and the face are also likely to be sore and swollen due to the inflammation. It is important to refrain from brushing or rinsing in the first 24 hours to not disturb the blood clot. Then for a week, gently gargle with salt water to keep the socket clean, take anti-inflammatories and pain killers prescribed by your dentist, and use an ice pack to help control the swelling.
Recommended diet after wisdom tooth extraction
It is best to eat soft food following extraction until the area is healed. This includes…
- Mashed potato
- Ice cream
When consuming smoothies and other drinks, avoid using a straw as the suction movement made by your cheeks can disrupt the blood clot.
Finally, call the dentist/surgeon immediately if you experience…
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Blood still oozing after a day or two
- Pus/foul smells