REMOVAL OF IMPACTED WISDOM TEETH
This leaflet has been designed to improve your understanding of any forthcoming treatment and contains answers to many of the commonly asked questions. If you have any other questions that the leaflet does not answer or would like further explanation please ask.
The wisdom tooth (or third molar) is usually the last tooth to erupt into the mouth anytime after about 16 years of age. Frequently there is not enough room to accommodate wisdom teeth and as such they do not come into the mouth normally. When this happens, the wisdom teeth are said to be “impacted”. Wisdom teeth are usually either impacted forwards into the tooth in front or backwards into the jaw bone.
Why do I need treatment?
An impacted wisdom tooth can cause a number of problems that mean the tooth is best removed. Most commonly these are
· Repeated attacks of infection in the gum surrounding the tooth. This leads to pain and swelling.
· Food packing which causes decay in either the wisdom tooth or the tooth in front.
· Cysts can form around the wisdom tooth if it does not come into the mouth properly. A cyst occurs when fluid fills the sack that normally surrounds a developing wisdom tooth.
What does the treatment involve?
Because the wisdom tooth has not fully erupted into the mouth it is often necessary to make a cut in the gum over the tooth. Sometimes it is also necessary to remove some bone surrounding the crown of the wisdom tooth. Rarely the tooth needs to be cut into 2 or 3 pieces to remove it. Once the wisdom tooth has been removed the gum is put back into place with stitches. In the majority of cases these stitches are dissolvable and take around two weeks to disappear.
What type of anaesthetic is used?
A number of options are available and depend on how difficult the wisdom tooth is to remove
· Local anaesthetic - this is an injection into gum surrounding the wisdom tooth, rather similar to that you may have had at your dentist for a filling. The injection takes a couple of minutes to numb the area and means that you will feel no pain while the wisdom tooth is removed. This is the best option for wisdom teeth that are simple to remove.
· Local anaesthetic and intravenous sedation – in addition to a local anaesthetic injection you can be given an injection into your arm. This makes you feel relaxed and less aware of the procedure.
· General anaesthetic – it is usually possible to remove wisdom teeth under a “day case” general anaesthetic, ie although you are put to sleep completely you will be able to go home on the same day as surgery.