Wisdom teeth are the large molars that emerge at the very back of your mouth, usually between the ages of 17 and 24. Some people never develop their wisdom teeth, whilst others have up to four emerge (one in each corner of your mouth). A lot of the time wisdom teeth appear with little trouble, however if there is not enough space for the teeth to grow they can become wedged in or ‘impacted.’
Problems usually start when wisdom teeth become impacted. Infection and inflammation can develop in and around the tissue covering the impacted tooth. You may notice swollen red gums, pain, jaw stiffness, and a general feeling of being unwell. The teeth near the wisdom teeth can also be affected by the inflammation of the gums and surrounding bone or even decay if food is trapped between the wisdom teeth and surrounding teeth. In some cases a cyst (sac of fluid) can form around the impacted wisdom tooth, which can destroy surrounding bone, or damage the surrounding teeth and gums. Antibiotics can be prescribed to help with any infections, but in most cases removal of the impacted teeth is the only permanent solution.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will explain the process of wisdom teeth removal. It is important to tell your doctor your entire medical history, including medicines you are currently taking, any known surgery/anaesthesia related problems, or if you are prone to heavy bleeding.
Your dentist may choose to take some X-ray images of your mouth prior to surgery. Usually the operation is done under local anaesthetic, which completely blocks pain from your teeth and gums while you stay awake, however if the teeth are difficult to remove or you feel anxious about the procedure, in chair sedation may be your preferred option. This allows you to sleep through your surgery. Your surgeon will advise when to eat and drink before and after surgery. You are usually required to fast for 6 hours before your surgery, if done under sedation. You should have a light meal and some fluids an hour before your surgery, if done under local anaesthetic.
Typical wisdom teeth issues: