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Wisdom teeth removal is one of the most common procedures performed on otherwise ‘healthy’ dental patients in Australia, and as such our team are very experienced at managing wisdom teeth and helping you decide if extraction or other treatment is necessary.
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or third molar teeth are the very last teeth to grow and develop in our mouths. They can start growing through the gums from around age 17, but due to changes in human jaw anatomy as we have evolved, they often become stuck or ‘impacted’ and cannot move fully into a position where we use them to chew, or where we can easily clean them effectively.
Why do we remove wisdom teeth?
Depending on where they get stuck, wisdom teeth may be very difficult to clean, making them highly susceptible to dental decay, gum infection or cyst formation. These infections are hard to treat, as the tooth is in a bad position to safely use a drill to remove decay or place a filling. (They are often under people’s tongues or close to their throat or other soft tissues).
For this reason, we often recommend you have these teeth extracted, eliminating the infection from your otherwise healthy mouth, and protecting your other more useful, healthy teeth.
What are the benefits of acting early?
If we can determine early that your wisdom teeth are likely to cause future infections, there are advantages to acting early.
While the teeth are still growing, their ‘roots’ may be shorter, and further away from nerves and blood vessels we wish to avoid during surgery.
Also, before about age 25 the facial bones are ‘spongey’, and less rigid, so in many cases extractions can be completed with less trauma to surrounding tissues, allowing faster healing with less swelling and pain.
Finally, if we can complete extractions when there is no or low infection or pain present, patients can experience less pain and swelling during recovery. If we wait for a roaring tooth ache to be present before we attempt surgery, you may have to visit us at an inconvenient time for your recovery and the expense of a surgery. Better to plan ahead and be in control of the timing of your recovery and costs.
Do all Wisdom Teeth need removing?
The short answer is no, though there is debate in the dental industry over whether it’s better to act early, and perform surgeries in young, healthy people before they develop pain, or wait until there is evidence of toothache or infection.
Older people are more likely to have other underlying health concerns, so like all surgery, the risks of complications can grow if we wait until people are older and sicker to act. Dr Jeremy Lam and our team of Dentists are very experienced, and well placed to discuss your personal risk profile with and guide you in the decision over whether to have surgery or wait and see if problems develop.
Emergency Wisdom teeth removal and care.
Fear not though, if you are caught with a rapidly developing or unexpected toothache from a wisdom tooth, Dr Jeremy Lam and our team will always offer you emergency dental treatment, and for special circumstances will offer after-hours emergency appointments. See our “Get in Touch” to make an appointment for toothache.