Have you ever wondered why your wisdom teeth can cause you so much grief? Is it normal? Do they need to be removed? When should they be removed? Read on to find out everything you need to know about those pesky little buggers and how you can be one step ahead!
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the very back teeth (molars) that come through last, usually in your late teens or early 20s. Most adults will normally have four wisdom teeth – two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw – but about 15-20% of people never develop at least one of them.
Unfortunately, depending on your luck, your wisdom teeth may not be so “wise”. They may come through at an angle, pushing into to the gum or the tooth beside it and become impacted.
Why Does It Hurt When My Wisdom Teeth Come Through?
When wisdom teeth become impacted, it can be painful and difficult to keep clean. Food and bacteria can get stuck under the gums, in between the wisdom teeth and the tooth next to it, resulting in tooth decay and gum infections. If they do lean sideways, the tooth can rub against your cheek causing bruising, ulcers as well as chewing problems.
If you ever suffer from the symptoms below, seek medical attention from your dentist immediately as these are classic signs of a gum infection caused by a wisdom tooth impaction:
- red, inflamed gum near the wisdom tooth
- pus coming from the gum
- swollen and sore lymph nodes underneath the jaw
- difficulty opening the mouth and swallowing
- bad breath
- Jaw and ear ache
Can I Do Anything To Help With The Pain Caused By Wisdom Teeth?
That depends on what’s causing the pain. If your wisdom teeth are coming through in the right position but causing slight gum tenderness, then over the counter pain relief such as Ibuprofen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) will do the trick (Only consume under the supervision of a health care professional). An ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) held over the inflamed side of your face can also help to relieve pain. Otherwise, swishing your mouth with warm, salty water is also another remedy you can try.
However, if the pain is so bad, lasts a long time or you notice swelling around your face or jaw, you need to make an appointment to visit your dentist as soon as possible as this is a sign that the area around the wisdom tooth has become infected.
Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Well, this depends on what your symptoms are, how bad they are, how often they occur, as well as the impact the wisdom teeth have on the rest of your mouth.
One of the best ways your dentist can tell if your wisdom teeth are going to cause any troubles is by taking a full mouth x-ray (OPG). This type of x-ray shows you clearly the position of your wisdom teeth in relation to the other molars, your sinus cavities and the nerves that supply the jaw area. If your wisdom teeth do need to be removed, many times your dentist can do so with just local anaesthetic and you won’t feel a thing.
Some wisdom teeth need more complex attention and may need to be removed under general anaesthetic, where you are not awake, with an Oral Maxillo-facial Surgeon.
When Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
You can be one step ahead of those pesky little things by having your wisdom teeth removed well before they cause any pain or damage. Once you start to experience pain, it is often that there is already tooth decay or a raging gum infection brewing. This is why it’s best to find out if your wisdom teeth are not so “wise” sooner, rather than later.
Ideally, wisdom teeth that look like they’re going to cause problems should be removed during your teenage or early adult years as the roots are still forming which means it’s a lot easier to take them out at this age.
What Happens If I Ignore Painful Wisdom Teeth?
Ignorance is not bliss if you ignore these problems.
Pain around your wisdom tooth, in your jaw, ear or the side of your face are classic symptoms of an infection. If the infection isn’t treated right away, it can spread to the surrounding areas. If it’s bad enough, the infection may cause facial swelling and restrict your ability to breathe and swallow, which becomes a true medical emergency i.e. Dial 000 ASAP!
Also, thanks to their hard to reach position in the back of your mouth, wisdom teeth that haven’t come through the gums properly are at a high risk of developing tooth decay because it’s just impossible to keep them clean. Not even a dentist or hygienist have the skills to brush and clean them properly… trust me.
By having problematic wisdom teeth removed proactively, you can avoid these complications from happening. Think about the sleepless nights, difficulty eating, irritable mood and unbearable pain you’ll never have to endure!
At Method Dental, we offer FREE wisdom teeth consultations so if you’re not so sure about your wisdom teeth and what to do about them, feel free to contact us via email or give us a call to see how Dr. Grant can help you.
How Much Does It Cost To Have Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
It depends on how difficult they are to remove and whether you choose to have them removed under local anaesthetic at a general dentist i.e Method Dental, or under general anaesthetic with an Oral Maxillo-facial Surgeon.
You can visit our Fees & Payment Plans page for more information but in general, the fees for removing all four wisdom teeth vary from around $800 up to $1,200 at Method Dental.
These fees are before any health fund rebates apply, which can reduce your costs. We also have payment plans to help make the care you need more affordable.
The fees above do not include a consultation and x-rays that are required for removal of wisdom teeth.
One Last Thing… Do Wisdom Teeth Make My Other Teeth Crooked?
Wisdom Teeth DO NOT make the rest of your teeth crowded or crooked. Your teeth move and shift for various other reasons. If you’re worried about why your teeth have slowly shifted out of position over the years, an orthodontic and cosmetic assessment forms part of the comprehensive examination we provide at Method Dental.
So book yourself in for a check-up and clean with Dr. Grant and he will tell you exactly what’s happening and how to fix it!
Dr. Grant McGrath BDSc
Jasmine Ooi BPharm