Not sure what to do about your wisdom tooth? You might want to have it pulled out safely and professionally by your dentist. Here’s what you need to consider.


What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are also known as your third molars. For those who get them, they are usually the last permanent teeth you will get and they typically emerge at the back of your mouth. 


What to expect

Many people will feel their wisdom teeth break through around the ages of 17–25. But everyone has a different experience. While some people get all four wisdom teeth, others never get them—and some will only get one, or a few! There’s no hard and fast rule about what to expect or how to deal with your wisdom teeth. But there are a few common possibilities you may experience.


Normal wisdom tooth eruption

For some people, getting a wisdom tooth feels no different to getting any other molar. These wisdom tooth eruptions generally cause no issues. However, even if this is the case for you, it’s still worth talking to your dentist about your options. If you’re visiting your dentist regularly, they’ll be able to assess your teeth and give their best advice on how you can take good care of your oral health both now and in the future.


Impacted (or partially erupted) wisdom teeth

These are wisdom teeth that haven’t broken through the gum due to a lack of space. For some, impacted wisdom teeth won’t cause immediate problems—but over time, they can lead to pain, swelling, inflamed gums and even tooth decay. This is something to monitor day-to-day but also with your dentist on a regular basis. Here are some potential signs and problems to watch out for:

  • Pain, swelling, discomfort or signs of infection in the tooth or the gum area
  • Trapped food or a buildup of plaque on the emerged wisdom tooth
  • Damage to a nearby tooth or bone
  • Cyst (fluid-filled sac) surrounding the wisdom tooth
  • Tooth decay (often seen when wisdom teeth have partially erupted)
  • Crowding or crooked teeth due to lack of space in mouth

When you might consider wisdom tooth extraction

Your dentist is your best source of professional advice and care when it comes to deciding whether you need to have your wisdom tooth or teeth removed. As you make this decision, you might weigh the following factors.


How much pain are your wisdom teeth causing you?

Is it difficult to ignore the pain? Or are you noticing further damage in your mouth—like signs of infection, crowding or surrounding gum and tooth pain?


Are you worried they might cause more damage in the future?

Your dentist will assess your teeth and advise on any potential damage (like trapped food, decay, infection or crowding) that your wisdom tooth may cause.


Are you planning on getting other treatments?

If you’re thinking of starting orthodontic treatment with your dentist, you might want to assess how your wisdom teeth could impact the outcomes if left as they are.


Pain management during and after teeth extractions

In many cases, wisdom teeth can be removed using local anaesthesia. However, for more complex procedures, dentists will recommend general anaesthesia to their patients.

It’s normal to feel pain after tooth extraction and many patients manage this with medications like ibuprofen and paracetamol. As your mouth heals, you may experience swelling and not be able to open your mouth fully. 

The pain should ease in a few days. Other pain management options include gently icing your jaw to reduce swelling, eating soft foods, avoiding overly hot foods or beverages and avoiding strenuous physical activities.


Ready for a check up?

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