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What happens when I have my wisdom teeth removed?

The words ‘wisdom teeth’ alone are enough to send a shiver down the back of many a spine. Getting them removed can improve your quality of life enormously, and can spell the end to upsetting toothache.

Having your wisdom teeth removed can seem daunting, here BMI Healthcare have answered a few of the most common questions to take away some of the mystery.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are extra molars that typically arrive in your late teens or early 20s. Most people have one at each back corner of their mouth (two at the top, two at the bottom), but some people can have more. They’re known as wisdom teeth because they arrive later than the rest of your teeth – when you’re older (and wiser).


Why do people their wisdom teeth removed?

Wisdom teeth arrive after your existing teeth have established, meaning there’s often not enough room for them. That can mean they arrive at an odd angle, meaning they can ‘impact’ the rest of your teeth. This can be painful, and extracting the wisdom teeth can remove the cause of the problem.

Even if they don’t arrive at an odd angle, you can also get your wisdom teeth removed if they’re causing dental problems like pericoronitis (inflammation of soft tissue around a tooth), cellulitis (infection of soft tissue) or abscesses. It can be difficult to keep wisdom teeth clean using traditional oral hygiene methods, and it can be worth having them removed to prevent tooth decay spreading to other teeth.

Will I be awake?

Yes, but you’ll be given a local anaesthetic injection to numb the area where the procedure takes place. General anaesthetic is only very rarely required.

Are there any alternatives?

A lot of short-term problems like infections can be resolved with antiseptic mouthwashes and antibiotics, but these won’t solve the root cause of the issue. If you want a permanent solution, you’ll need to have them removed.

What does the procedure involve?

The dentist or surgeon performing the removal will first give you a local anaesthetic to numb the area. Then, they’ll use dental tools to clamp your tooth and gently rock it back and forth to loosen it. Lower wisdom teeth tend to be trickier to remove – the dentist may need to break the tooth into several pieces, make a small cut in your gum, or remove a small amount of bone to help it come out. The whole thing should take no longer than 45 minutes, even for a complicated extraction.

What happens afterwards?

Your mouth will be numb for a while afterwards, so avoid any hot foods or drinks as you might not be able to feel if they’re burning your mouth. It should be three or four hours before you regain feeling in your jaw.

For the first 24 hours after the extraction, you’ll need to avoid alcohol and smoking, hot liquids or rinsing your mouth out with anything. Stitches used to seal any incision will take a few days to dissolve.

Over-the-counter painkillers should be enough to help you through any pain after the procedure, but speak to your dentist or doctor if your pain persists or you’re finding it difficult to manage.

BMI Healthcare are the UK’s largest private hospital group in the UK with 59 hospitals and clinics across England, Scotland and Wales. You can find out more about wisdom tooth extraction, or you can make an online enquiry and a member of the BMI Healthcare team will be in touch.

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