Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are molars which are the last adult teeth to develop in the mouth. Most people have four wisdom teeth at the back of the mouth — 1 in each corner.

They usually start to appear in gums in late teens, early twenties, but it can also be quite common to appear later. By this time, there are already 28 adult teeth in the mouth and so the development of wisdom teeth can often be impacted by restricted space, causing problems as they grow. Wisdom teeth can sometimes emerge at an angle or get stuck and only partially emerge. Teeth that grow through like this are known as impacted.

When to see a Prospect Street Dental Practice dentist

Impacted wisdom teeth don't always cause symptoms. However, when an impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected, damages other teeth or causes other dental problems, you may experience some of these signs or symptoms:

Red or swollen gums
Tender or bleeding gums
Jaw pain
Swelling around the jaw
Bad breath
An unpleasant taste in your mouth
Difficulty opening your mouth

As with any teeth problems, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it's important to book an appointment at Prospect Street Dental Practice to see a dentist as soon as possible, rather than waiting for routine dental health review.

What can I do to help relieve the discomfort of wisdom teeth?

A mouthwash of medium-hot water with a teaspoonful of salt will help to reduce gum soreness and inflammation. Swish the salt water around the tooth, trying to get into the areas your toothbrush cannot reach. Do this several times a day.

An antibacterial mouthwash containing chlorhexidine can also reduce the inflammation. Pain-relieving tablets such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can also be useful in the short term, but talk to us at Prospect Street Dental Practice if the pain continues.

Why are wisdom teeth removed?

If your wisdom teeth are impacted but not causing any problems, you don't usually need to be remove them. 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 several problems in the mouth:

  • Damage to other teeth. If the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, it may damage the second molar or increase the risk of infection in that area. This pressure can also cause problems with crowding of the other teeth or require orthodontic treatment to straighten other teeth.
  • Cysts. The wisdom tooth develops in a sac within the jawbone. The sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst that can damage the jawbone, teeth and nerves.
  • Decay. Partially impacted wisdom teeth appear to be at higher risk of tooth decay than other teeth. This probably occurs because wisdom teeth are harder to clean and because food and bacteria get easily trapped between the gum and a partially erupted tooth.
  • Gum disease. The difficulty cleaning impacted, partially erupted wisdom teeth increases the risk of developing a painful, inflammatory gum disease in that area.

Many of these problems can be treated with antibiotics, antiseptic mouthwash and a good oral hygiene regime.

Wisdom teeth removal is very common, but usually only recommended when other treatments haven't worked.

How are wisdom teeth removed?

If your Prospect Street Dental Practice dentist recommends removing your wisdom teeth, they'll take an X-ray of your mouth to help them determine who should carry out the procedure. Your dentist may remove your wisdom teeth, or they may refer you to our in house expert Dr Mahesh Kotli, for treatment.

Before the operation, we’ll fully explain the procedure to you.

A local anaesthetic injection is usually given 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.

A small cut in the gum is sometimes necessary, and the tooth may need to be cut into smaller pieces before it's removed.

It takes anything from a few minutes to 20 minutes, or sometimes even longer, to remove a wisdom tooth.

After your wisdom teeth have been removed, you may have swelling and discomfort, both inside and outside your mouth. Occasionally, some mild bruising is also visible. This is usually improves after 3 days, but it can take up to 2 weeks. If this continues for longer, or progresses, please get in touch with the team at Prospect Street Dental Practice as soon as possible.

Prevention

You can't keep an impaction from occurring but keeping your regular dental appointments for cleaning and reviews enables your dentist to monitor the growth and emergence of your wisdom teeth. Regularly updated dental X-rays may indicate impacted wisdom teeth before any symptoms develop.

If you have any concerns about your wisdom teeth, or are experiencing any pain, give us a call on 0118 947 2517 or .