Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of molars to emerge between the ages of 17 to 21 — two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw, found at the very back of your mouth. While it is common to grow a set of four wisdom teeth, some people may only grow a couple while others may not grow any wisdom teeth at all.
There are two types of wisdom tooth extraction — simple and surgical. If your wisdom tooth is visible and fully erupted, a simple dental extraction will be performed to remove your wisdom tooth.
On the other hand, if your wisdom tooth is not fully erupted (fully impacted) or partially impacted, a surgical removal will be required to uncover and remove your impacted wisdom tooth.
A wisdom tooth surgery is generally required when one or more of your wisdom teeth is impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that have either partially erupted through the gum or are completely buried in the soft tissue or jawbone, beneath the gum surface.
With insufficient room for the teeth to emerge from the gum, it is also common for impacted wisdom teeth to grow at an angle, pushing against your second molar which may cause damage or increase the risk of infection in that area if not removed. The added build-up of pressure can also cause problems with crowding of other teeth which may ultimately require braces or aligners to help straighten other teeth.
Generally, if you are having the lower wisdom tooth removed under local anaesthesia, our dentists would recommend to remove the upper wisdom tooth at the same time, vice versa.
Most patients are able to have all four of their wisdom teeth removed at the same time, if you choose to do so. That said, if you’re worried about the discomfort post-op and would prefer to remove 2 teeth at once, you can discuss with your dentist to remove a pair (both upper and lower on the same side) over 2 sessions.
Depending on the number of teeth and complexity of extraction, a wisdom tooth surgery should take no longer than an hour to complete.
Before commencing the procedure, your dentist will numb the extraction site with local anaesthesia so that you will not feel pain during the removal.
However, you might feel some pressure or even hear some cracking or popping noises during the removal — rest assured that this is completely normal due to the forces being applied to remove the tooth.
After the removal of the wisdom tooth, it is normal to develop a blood clot over the extraction site to protect and heal the underlying bone and nerve endings. It is important to leave the extraction site untouched on the day of the surgery to prevent the blood clot from dislodging. In the event that the blood clot becomes dislodged, it will result in a painful dental condition known as dry socket or alveolar osteitis, which can become increasingly painful with each passing day.
To prevent dry socket, here are a few things you can avoid post-extraction, to aid in a faster recovery: