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Wisdom Teeth

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Problems with wisdom teeth

When there is not enough room in the jaw for wisdom teeth, it can stop them coming through properly. Brushing and flossing these teeth can be difficult. Food and bacteria can get stuck between the wisdom tooth and the tooth next to it, leading to tooth decay and gum infections.

Crowded wisdom teeth in the upper jaw often lean sideways and rub against the cheek. This may cause ulcers on the cheek and chewing problems. Wisdom teeth may also push the other teeth closer together and affect a person’s bite.

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Symptoms of wisdom teeth infection

Signs of gum infection caused by a wisdom tooth include:

  • red, inflamed gum near the wisdom tooth
  • swelling
  • pain
  • pus coming from the gum
  • the lymph glands under the jaw become swollen and sore
  • it may become difficult to open the mouth and to swallow
  • fever.

Treatment for wisdom teeth infection

Infections caused by wisdom teeth can be treated with antibiotics. However, the infection may keep coming back if problem teeth are not removed. People who have other health problems, especially those with lower immunity, may have complications from these infections.

Removal of wisdom teeth

X-rays will help to tell if wisdom teeth might cause problems. Some wisdom teeth do not cause problems and do not need to be taken out. Sometimes, the dentist or oral surgeon may just need to cut a small part of the gum to help the wisdom tooth come through.

If wisdom teeth do need to be taken out, a local or general anaesthetic will be used, so you won’t feel it. Because wisdom teeth are large, the hole where the tooth was may be stitched to help it heal. It is normal for your jaw and gum to be sore, swollen and bleed for a few days after having a wisdom tooth out.

One possible complication of wisdom teeth removal is a dry socket (alveolar osteitis), when the area where the tooth came out of doesn’t heal properly. Bad breath and pain from the socket are signs. A dry socket can be successfully treated by your oral health professional.

Care after surgery

Your oral health professional will talk with you about how to care for your mouth after having a wisdom tooth taken out. Some general suggestions include:

  • Take pain-relieving medication if needed (and on advice from your oral health professional)
  • Hold warm salty water in your mouth. Do this after meals and no earlier than 24 hours after surgery.
  • Eat soft, easy-to-chew foods for the next few days.
  • Don’t smoke for 48 hours after the surgery.
  • Avoid alcohol.

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