Dr. Gillman has over 20 years of experience during which he has surgically extracted thousands of wisdom teeth.
What Are Wisdom Teeth and What Problems Do They Cause?
The wisdom teeth are the final teeth in the mouth to develop. By the time the wisdom teeth are ready to erupt, there is frequently insufficient space in the mouth to accommodate them and therefore they may become trapped (impacted). Wisdom teeth which become impacted once they have broken through the gums are at risk of causing chronic infection, which can lead to pain, damage to nearby teeth, swelling and unpleasant odours. If this occurs, the wisdom tooth in question most often needs to be removed.
How Will I Know If My Wisdom Tooth Needs to be Removed and What Does the Procedure Entail?
A panoramic x-ray enables us to see the position of the impacted tooth within the jaw and therefore allows us to determine if it needs to be removed, how complicated the extraction is likely to be and the length of the recovery process. Most wisdom teeth may be removed under local anaesthetic (a small injection which makes part of the jaw numb). The procedure commonly lasts from 5 - 30 minutes depending on various factors including the size, angle and position of the tooth.
A small proportion of wisdom teeth may develop close to a nerve within the jawbone that supplies feeling to the lower lip and chin. These teeth can be identified using dental radiographs (x-rays) and in some cases a CT scan may be requested. A CT scan provides a 3D picture of the proximity of the nerve to the root of the wisdom tooth and gives a good picture of the risk of nerve damage and how best to approach the extraction. In rare cases, where the tooth curves around or traps the nerve, a coronectomy may be recommended, whereby the tooth is separated from the root tip (the portion of the tooth next to the nerve), which is carefully left untouched.
What Should I Expect Before and After the Procedure?
Before having a wisdom tooth removed under local anaesthetic, eat and drink a light meal, remembering that you will not be able to do either for 2 hours after the surgery. For patients having general anaesthetic or sedation, you will need to stop eating 6 hours before the procedure. You may well experience swelling following the procedure as well as pain for between 2- 10 days. Please consider whether you will need to take time off work following the procedure.