Information about wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that come up behind the 12 year old molars, at around the age of 17. We typically see them become infected, especially if they are trapped in the jaw bone or gum, which is termed impaction. When the gum around the wisdom tooth becomes inflamed, the gum becomes swollen, painful to bite and there can be intense pain from the area. If this is the case, the best thing to do is to see a dentist, and in the mean time these tips for controlling discomfort can be useful.



treatment for wisdom teeth pain

  • see the dentist

  • Use warm salt water rinses - 1 glass of warm water with 1 teaspoon of salt and gargle it around

  • Use Curasept dark blue mouth rinse 3 x day / Savacol will cause staining of the teeth

  • continue to brush thoroughly around the wisdom teeth

  • consider using an Oral B professional care electric toothbrush if you intend to keep your wisdom teeth as it allows a much more thorough clean in these areas

  • If you have no allergies , asthma or stomach problems, you may be able to anti inflammatories, however it is important to ensure that it does not interfere with other medications, and to check with your doctor, dentist and pharmacist.


what is an opg x-ray

An OPG / full jaw x-ray will allow dentists and specialists to see the formation of the roots of the wisdom teeth and where the bone and nerves are lying. There is magnification around the molar teeth so it is not a good x-ray view to find decay, unless it is a fairly large cavity that is obvious. 


> partially erupted wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth that have partly broken through the gum and are partly still under the gum, and not likely to come through any further.

> impacted teeth

If the teeth are leaning into the other teeth, or jammed under the gum or partly under the gum, it might be the case that the wisdom teeth need to be removed.

> gum infection

If they continuously become infected, they may need to be removed.

> after orthodontics

Some orthodontists recommend that wisdom teeth are removed in case they push against the other teeth and lead to crowding of the other teeth. Other times there continues to be crowding even after the wisdom teeth are removed.

> unerupted wisdom teeth

Teeth that are unerupted, or completely trapped in the bone, it may be best to remove them, because they may be a source of infection. Sometimes this can be a difficult process if there are nerves in the way. Dentists and Oral and maxillofacial surgeons get very worried about the inferior dental nerve, a nerve that lies 3mm away from the tip of the root of the wisdom tooth. Sometimes the nerve wraps around the roots of the tooth, and as it supplies the lower lip and front teeth, the dentist will be very worried about removing the tooth.  This is often the case if a patient has had orthodontic care with braces that was due to crowding.

what can happen if i leave them

Very rarely cysts can develop around wisdom teeth that stay under the gum and bone.

Often people will get pain in the gum around the wisdom teeth, where debris is trapped between the tooth and the gum. This is called pericoronitis. If it happens more than once, it might be worth considering whether the wisdom teeth need to be removed. 

Rarely wisdom teeth can cause severe infections that require hospitalisation and even intensive care. It is important to seek dental care.


do all wisdom teeth need to be removed? 

If there is enough space, and they have come through at the right angle and are not leaning into the teeth in front, they can stay where they are. Very often people present with decay in their wisdom teeth because they find it very difficult to clean around them correctly.  Wisdom teeth are not necessary for function of the teeth and jaws. If there is gum disease or tooth decay it might be best to consider removal of the wisdom teeth. If there is inadequate space, and they will not come through correctly, they will need to be removed. 


what dentists call wisdom teeth

In Australia, dentists  call the wisdom teeth the 8th teeth. The wisdom tooth on the top right is tooth 18, the one on the top left is tooth 28, the wisdom tooth on the lower left is tooth 38, and the wisdom tooth on the lower right is tooth 48.


who can remove wisdom teeth

Dentists and Oral and maxillofacial surgeons remove wisdom teeth. A referral and an OPG x-ray is required prior to removing wisdom teeth, with an oral surgeon.