Unfortunately many people experience pain associated with their wisdom teeth, also known as third molars.
Some people win the genetic lottery and don’t develop wisdom teeth, or don’t develop all four wisdom teeth, while others can have more than the usual four.
It is not always necessary for wisdom teeth to be removed.
If they have completely erupted (grown) into the mouth in a good position and are accessible to brush and floss, then they may be kept and treated like other molar teeth.
Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?
Wisdom teeth can become impacted, meaning they have erupted (grown into the mouth) at an abnormal angle and into the adjacent tooth.
Variation in the angulation of the tooth means they are either partially erupted, with only a small portion able to break through the gum, or completely unerupted (i.e. hidden under the gum).
Some people’s jaws are too small for a third molar which also results in the wisdom tooth not properly erupting.
These circumstances can cause decay and periodontal (gum) damage to the tooth in front of the wisdom tooth, the second molar.
Additionally the trapped, partially erupted tooth can easily develop decay as well as infection in the surrounding pocket of gum.
Even wisdom teeth that are fully erupted can be difficult or nearly impossible to clean properly and therefore develop decay and/or gum issues.
Common symptoms of troublesome wisdom teeth include:
- Swelling and redness in the area
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Bad taste
- Painful pressure running down the side of the jaw and the neck.
Wisdom teeth can also cause a toothache with extreme pain to hot and cold as well as aching pain for no reason that can even wake people up at night.
What would happen if I chose to ignore the pain?
If these issues are not promptly addressed the damage to the second molar in front of the wisdom tooth will gradually increase and the tooth may require significant treatment in order to be saved.
Worst case scenario, infections that originated from the wisdom tooth can spread throughout the body and cause a life-threatening situation requiring hospitalisation.
What should I do if I suspect my wisdom teeth are the cause of my pain?
If you are experiencing any discomfort it is best to arrange an appointment at Smith Street Dental at your earliest convenience.
Early interception enables us to minimise the spread of infection and get you out of pain as soon as possible.
A full mouth X-Ray, or OPG, will need to be taken so we can appropriately visualise the tooth and plan for its removal.
Referral to a specialist oral maxillofacial surgeon may be required due to the positioning of your wisdom teeth, or if you prefer to have a general anaesthetic for surgery.
In many cases however, wisdom teeth can be safely removed by your dentist at Smith Street Dental avoiding the need for a hospital admission.
We understand that there is rarely a good time to have wisdom teeth removed and will endeavour to give you short term relief.
However in some instances, especially if there is severe inflammation or infection present, emergency removal of the wisdom teeth may be necessary.
It is very common for people to be anxious about pain and recovery following removal of wisdom teeth and we always endeavour to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
At Smith Street Dental Practice our patients’ comfort is our primary concern.
Please don’t hesitate to Get in touch with us to make an appointment at Smith Street Dental Practice!
Article by Dr Sinead Ruane
Dr Sinead Ruane – Dentist – Smith Street Dental Practice.
Dr Sinead Ruane graduated, with honours from University of Dublin, Trinity College in 2002. Thereafter she took on the role of House Officer at Dublin Dental Hospital, during which time she successfully completed her membership exams for the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland.