All About Wisdom Teeth
Scientists tell us that human jaws are gradually becoming smaller, as a result of evolution. This tendency to smaller jaw in modern man is the most probable cause of impacted wisdom teeth. Impacted means the tooth is stuck under gum and jaw bone and is unable to come into a useful, healthy position in the mouth. Teeth become impacted due to a lack of room in the jaws, or incorrect positioning. This is a common problem. The removal of impacted wisdom teeth is one of man’s most common surgical operations. Wisdom teeth develop during the adolescent years. If there is inadequate space, certain problems may arise.
1. Pressure may be created, causing pain in the jaw, ear and headache. This same pressure can cause damage to healthy, adjacent teeth.
2. Infection of the tissue around the wisdom tooth. This is called peritonitis, and is caused by food and bacteria which accumulates under gum tissue overlying impacted wisdom teeth. This can be quite painful, with possible development of severe infection.
3. Dental Crowding. Many experts are concerned that pressure from erupting wisdom teeth can cause crowding in adjacent teeth.
4. Cyst and Tumour Formation. Developing teeth normally have a sac around the crown. This disappears when the tooth grows into the mouth. If the tooth is impacted, the sac can grow and develop into a cyst or benign tumour. Rarely, malignant tumours have been seen in these sacs.
5. Malocclusion. Poorly positioned wisdom teeth can interfere with the fit between top and bottom teeth.
The Removal Of Impacted wisdom Teeth
While removal of impacted wisdom teeth is quite common, it does not mean the surgery is easy, or should be taken lightly. Wisdom teeth removal can be very simple or very complicated. The details of surgery are usually discussed at the pre-surgical consultation.
Impacted wisdom teeth are most frequently removed in the oral surgery clinic. Patients with very difficult surgery or coincident medical problems may have their surgery done in hospital. The decision as to where your surgery will best be done will be made by you and your oral surgeon.
Regardless of location, you will be kept completely comfortable during your surgery. I.V. sedation or general anaesthesia is most frequently used to maintain complete comfort during surgery. Local anaesthesia is generally used also. Simpler extraction procedures are frequently done with local anaesthesia (freezing) alone, or freezing and “laughing gas”.
Recovery Period. Most patients having impacted wisdom teeth removed will require some recovery time. The average varies from four to seven days following surgery. Simple extractions require less time. Difficult surgery may require more time.
Swelling and bruising are common after removal of impacted teeth. The swelling gener-ally peaks after two to three days.
It generally takes five to seven days to go away. This is a normal part of the healing mecha-nism. Anti-swelling medication is frequently given to reduce the amount and duration of post-surgical swelling.