Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need my wisdom tooth out?

Most people have four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw, it is not uncommon for these teeth to become "impacted." An impacted tooth is one which is in an abnormal position, it may have grown through the gum or it may have grown only part way through.

Because wisdom teeth come through at the back of the mouth, and often become stuck, they can cause a number of problems and therefore it is recommended that they are removed. around the gum overlying the tooth. This can be extremely painful and on rare occasions can cause serious infections. Because the wisdom teeth are difficult to clean at the back of the mouth and particularly when they are only part way through, they often get decayed or cause decay in the tooth in front when they are leaning against it.

Impacted wisdom teeth are also one of causes and contributing factors to crowding of the front teeth, especially in the lower jaw. They result in an area of weakness, which may lead to a broken jaw following a blow to the face during contact sport or a fall. If the tooth fails to come all the way through the gum, a fluid sack called a cyst may form and by gradual enlargement endanger the health of the nearby bone and teeth.

Recently, it has been shown that partly erupted wisdom teeth in older patients can lead to a variety of medical problems and there are concerns that they may contribute to heart disease, diabetes and other systemic conditions. These problems can be prevented by the surgical removal of the teeth.

Why see an Oral Surgeon instead of my dentist?

Oral Surgeons are specialists. They have special training and expertise in the surgery of the mouth, face and jaws including the removal of the teeth. A minimum of five years of specialist training is required to become an oral surgeon. They also have specialist training in sedation techniques and working under general anaesthetic.

What is the difference between general and local anaesthetic?

General anaesthetic is where a patient in completely asleep. The whole body is asleep. This must be performed at a proper day hospital with an anaesthetist. A number of procedures and surgeries can be performed with local anaesthetic and intravenous sedation. The intravenous sedation (injection in the arm) completely relaxes the patient and is often called "twilight sleep." Most often patients do not remember the surgery and think they were asleep. Local anaesthetic is where only the area to be operated on (the teeth and gums) is put asleep and patient remains awake. This is usually an injection into the gums.

Why is there a hole where my wisdom teeth were?

There is always a hole in the bone when the tooth is removed. Often a blood clot forms and the hole is not completely obvious. The hole is slowly filled in from the bottom and completely disappears. This usually takes about eight weeks. Sometimes food can get stuck in a hole and if necessary you will be given a syringe which you fill with water and squirt the area to dislodge the food.

How long do dissolving stitches last?

Dissolving sutures can last from three to four days to three to four weeks depending on which stitches are used and which type of operation you have had.