Wisdom teeth are the third molars found at the back of the mouth. They are typically the slowest to develop of all the teeth and can appear at any time from 16-24 (though some people fall outside this range)
It is most common for humans to have four wisdom teeth, however not everyone has this many. Some people are lucky enough to be born without wisdom teeth at all or have fewer than the total. You can read about how many wisdom teeth to expect here.
I often get asked about the wisdom tooth removal procedure – as it is frequently necessary to remove these teeth if there is not enough space of they are causing damage or pain. Removing impacted lower wisdom teeth in particular is an interesting and unique procedure.
The wisdom tooth removal process
I found this video on YouTube showing a simple removal of a mildly impacted lower wisdom tooth. The dentist follows a common procedure to remove this kind of pesky lower molar. It was great of the dentist to record and share this video showing their approach to wisdom tooth removal.
Common steps of a lower wisdom tooth extraction
- An adequate x-ray image of the area is taken. Most commonly we would use and OPG 2D image to visualise the tooth and the areas near by. It is important for the dentist to have a clean understanding of the angels of the impacted tooth. A 3D scan can also be helpful in some circumstances.
- Local anaesthetic is administer to the area making the patient numb. This means no pain at all during the procedure. When local anaesthetic is in place the patient can soemtiesm still feel pressure and pushing – but they will not feel pain due to the great modern numbing agents.
- An instrument is used to ‘nudge’ the tooth. We call this luxation – but it really just means we nudge the corners of the tooth to start to make it move.
- Once the tooth is ready we can ‘wedge’ the space which lifts the tooth out – ready for the removal
- The final extractions grabbing the tooth and removing it from the mouth
- Typically a dissolving stitch is then used – though this will depend case by case
It is a relatively minor and simple procedure that once fully numbed does not take a substantial amount of time. More heavily impacted lower wisdom teeth may require bone removal or need to come out in pieces. If this is the case the extraction can take longer.
Wisdom Tooth Removal Video
WARNING: This video is a little graphic if you are not used to seeing minor medical procedures!
Wisdom teeth impactions can cause multiple problems, such as pain, infection, swelling, decay and loss of the neighboring teeth. We generally advise the preventative removal of impacted wisdom teeth before any of these problems can arise. Wisdom teeth become impacted when there is not enough space in the jaws. If addressed early, we can potentially stimulate growth of the jaws.
From the awesome YouTube account of Paul Coceancig
If you have had your wisdom teeth out and are watching this procedure after – congratulations! Concentrate on healing and rinse frequently with home made salt water rinse.