Why Wisdom Teeth?
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What are they and why do we often have to have them removed?

Most people have four wisdom teeth which develop behind their second molars, however some people may have more and some lucky individuals may have none at all! Wisdom teeth get their name because they typically erupt between 17 and 25 years old when a person is more “wise” than when their other teeth come through as a child

Why do Wisdom teeth need to be removed?

In a large proportion of people, there is not enough space in the jaw to allow wisdom teeth to erupt correctly meaning they may not come through the gum completely or come in at angles against the teeth in front or bone of the jaw (impacted). This can create pockets that trap food and debris and may be difficult to clean and maintain properly. This often leads to gum infections, decay, pain, swelling and damage to other teeth. More seriously, infections and swelling from wisdom teeth, particularly in the lower jaw can spread to other areas compromising the airway or spreading down into the neck and torso.

Because of this, our dentists may recommend extraction of wisdom teeth when problems occur, or, if there is risk of damage to other teeth, before problems occur.

Each case is different and while some wisdom teeth can be removed with conventional methods, often minor surgery is required to remove them.

Reasons for surgical removal are:

  •   They are partially or completely surrounded by bone and/or gums
  •   They are close to important structures such as nerves, blood vessels, sinuses or other teeth.
  •   They are weak due to decay or previous treatments and likely to break, leaving fragments of tooth and bone which can become infected. 

Our dental surgeons and team are highly experienced and trained and our rooms are fully equipped to safely and comfortably undertake complex surgical extractions to minimise the risks and complications which may occur.

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References and further reading:
Australian Dental Association 2011, Fact Sheet – “Caring for Wisdom Teeth.”, viewed June 2 2015 <http://www.ada.org.au/app_cmslib/media/lib/0804/m124634_v1_wis domteethfactsheet.pdf>
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care 2014 “Wisdom teeth: Overview.” viewed June 2 2015 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072775/#i2701.so urces>
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