Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are the third molars and often become impacted as they don't begin to erupt until the late teens or early 20s. By this stage the jaws have already stopped growing and many people don't have sufficient room to accommodate these teeth. By the time they are ready to erupt this is often insufficient space for them to come through normally. As a result they may try to erupt horizontally or will try to push up underneath adjacent teeth. Sometimes they will partially erupt or they may remain hidden underneath your gums.
Diagnosing an Impacted Wisdom Tooth
Your dentist will have been keeping an eye on the development of your wisdom teeth through regular dental x-rays and will probably already have a good idea as to whether or not they will be impacted. If you haven't visited a dentist for a while and think your wisdom teeth are trying to push through your gums then you may experience sudden symptoms that indicate something isn't quite right. These symptoms can include:
Feeling pain or tenderness in the gums, or your gums might look swollen or red
You might develop bad breath or you'll notice an unpleasant taste especially when you bite down on the affected area
It's possible your lymph nodes might become swollen, and you may even notice you have difficulty opening your mouth
A partially erupted wisdom tooth may become infected or decayed as it will be partly covered by a flap of gum tissue making the area very difficult to keep clean especially as it's right at the back of the mouth. This can result in an infection called pericoronitis developing which is similar to gum disease. It's possible that your dentist might be able to clear up this condition but it may recur in which case the affected tooth will need to be extracted.
Straightforward wisdom teeth extractions can usually be carried out by your dentist under local anaesthetic, but sometimes they may choose to refer you to an oral surgeon. If the wisdom tooth is embedded in the jawbone then it may be necessary to remove some of the bone covering up the tooth, and sometimes the tooth will be extracted in several different sections to minimise the incision required. In this case extra sedation may be required.
What to Expect after Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Recovery after wisdom tooth extraction should be straightforward, but it's possible that some bleeding may occur several hours after the extraction took place, or that your face begins to look slightly swollen around the area of the extraction. Your dentist will have advised you on the use of pain medication, and if your wisdom tooth was infected it's possible you might have been prescribed antibiotics which should be taken until the prescription is completely finished. You might want to stick to eating soft foods for a few days, but you should continue to brush your teeth as normal although you will need to be careful near the site of the extraction. It's best to avoid using mouthwash as this might irritate the extraction site.
Once the wisdom tooth is removed a blood clot will form in the empty socket, and it's important to take care not to dislodge the blood clot as this helps to aid healing. If the blood clot does become dislodged then a condition called dry socket can develop. This will only happen in a tiny percentage of the tooth extractions but will require extra treatment to clean out the socket and to protect it with dressings.
How Much Does Wisdom Tooth Extraction Cost?
The cost of a wisdom tooth extraction depends on the difficulty of the surgical procedure and the type of anaesthesia and sedation required.