A Brief Introduction
In this treatment page, before you decide on your treatment package and get the procedure, we wanted to explain briefly the world of wisdom teeth – those late bloomers in your mouth that sometimes need to be removed. We’ll explore what wisdom teeth are, their evolutionary background, and when they typically appear. We’ll also walk through the wisdom tooth extraction procedure, provide essential do’s and don’ts for aftercare, discuss the costs in different countries, and discuss when it’s time to consider extraction.
What is a Wisdom Tooth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as the third molars, are the final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. These teeth are a part of the natural growth and development of your mouth. They are called ‘wisdom’ teeth because they appear at a more mature age, typically between 17 and 25 years when you’re supposedly wiser than you were in childhood.
From an evolutionary standpoint, wisdom teeth played a crucial role. Our ancestors had a rough diet that consisted of raw plants and meat, which required more chewing power and resulted in significant wear of the dental structure. To compensate for this wear, human jaws were larger and could accommodate more teeth, including the third set of molars. As humans evolved, changes in diet to softer, cooked foods, along with advances in tools and cooking methods, reduced the need for these extra teeth.
In the modern context, wisdom teeth often present a challenge rather than a benefit. Today’s human jaw is typically smaller and doesn’t have enough space to accommodate these additional molars. This lack of space can lead to several issues. In some cases, wisdom teeth emerge from the gum line and align properly with the other teeth. However, more commonly, they are misaligned or don’t fully emerge, which can cause problems.
Misaligned wisdom teeth can grow sideways, emerge only partially, or remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. These issues can result in a condition called impaction. Impacted wisdom tooth can lead to various problems like pain, infection, and damage to adjacent teeth. They can also form cysts that can damage the jawbone, nerves, and surrounding teeth. Additionally, partially emerged wisdom teeth create openings around the teeth that can be breeding grounds for bacteria, leading to oral infection and gum disease.
Because of these potential problems, dentists often monitor the development of wisdom teeth through X-rays and regular check-ups, especially during late adolescence and early adulthood. This monitoring helps in making timely decisions about whether to keep or remove these teeth.
How is the Wisdom Tooth Extraction Procedure
- Initial Consultation: Your dentist or oral surgeon will start with an X-ray to determine the position of the wisdom teeth.
- Anaesthesia: Before the procedure, you’ll receive anaesthesia to numb the area and keep you comfortable. Options include local, sedation, or general anesthesia.
- The Extraction: The surgeon makes an incision in the gum to expose the tooth and bone, removes any bone blocking access to the tooth root, and then divides the tooth into sections for easier removal.
- Cleaning and Stitching: After the tooth is removed, the site is cleaned, and if necessary, stitches are placed to aid in healing.
- Recovery: You’re moved to a recovery room if general anaesthesia is used, or you might be ready to go home after a brief observation period with local or sedation anaesthesia.
The length of the wisdom tooth extraction procedure can vary depending on several factors, including the number of teeth being removed, the complexity of the case, and the type of anaesthesia used. Typically, the extraction itself takes about 30 to 60 minutes per tooth. However, you should also account for additional time for the initial consultation, preparation for the surgery, and post-extraction recovery.
If you’re receiving general anaesthesia, you might need more time in the dental clinic or hospital to allow the anaesthesia to wear off. In cases where multiple wisdom teeth are extracted in one session, the procedure may take longer. Overall, for a single wisdom tooth extraction under local anaesthesia, you can expect the entire visit to last approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Do’s and Don’ts after Wisdom Tooth Extraction
- Rest and keep your head elevated.
- Use ice packs to reduce swelling.
- Eat soft foods like yoghurt, soup, and applesauce.
- Drink plenty of fluids but avoid using a straw.
- Follow your dentist’s instructions for oral hygiene.
- Avoid vigorous rinsing or spitting.
- Stay away from hard, crunchy, or very hot foods.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol as they can hinder healing.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity for a few days.
How Much Wisdom Tooth Extraction Costs
The cost of extracting a wisdom tooth can vary significantly depending on the country, the complexity of the extraction, and whether the tooth is impacted or not. In the United States, the price for a straightforward wisdom tooth extraction can range from $200 to $1100 per tooth. However, if the tooth is impacted or requires a more complex surgical procedure, the cost can be significantly higher, sometimes reaching up to $600 or more per tooth.
In Canada, the cost of extracting a wisdom tooth generally ranges between CAD 700 to CAD 1000 per tooth. Similar to the U.S., the price can increase for complicated cases, especially for impacted teeth that require surgical intervention.
In the United Kingdom, the prices are quite varied. A simple extraction can cost anywhere from £450 to £950 per tooth. The higher end of the cost spectrum usually involves more complex procedures performed in private dental clinics.
Germany sees a range of approximately €200 to €800 per tooth for wisdom tooth extraction. The cost can escalate for more involved procedures, particularly in cases where the tooth is deeply impacted or if there are other complications.
Turkey, on the other hand, is known for its more affordable dental services. Here, the cost for wisdom tooth extraction can be as low as $100 per tooth, which is around £75. This lower cost is attributed to the country’s overall lower cost of living and operational expenses in the dental sector. In addition to this, Turkey has become a popular destination for dental tourism. Many dental clinics offer all-inclusive packages to international patients, which not only cover the dental procedure but also include other benefits like accommodation, airport transfers, and sometimes even guided tours of the local attractions. These packages are not only cost-effective but also provide an opportunity to combine dental treatment with a cultural experience.
It’s important to remember that the quoted prices are average estimates and can vary based on individual circumstances. Factors like the dentist’s experience, the clinic’s location, and any additional procedures required can influence the final cost.
When to Have Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom tooth extraction is considered when:
- There’s not enough room for the teeth to emerge or grow properly.
- You experience pain, infection, or gum disease related to an emerging wisdom tooth.
- There are cysts, tumours, or damage to nearby teeth.
- There’s extensive tooth decay or gum disease.
Regular dental check-ups can help determine if and when your wisdom teeth should be removed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for a wisdom tooth to come in once it starts?
The emergence of a wisdom tooth is a gradual process and can vary greatly among individuals. It can take several months to a few years for a wisdom tooth to fully emerge once it starts. Some people may experience intermittent periods of discomfort as the tooth pushes through the gum line.
How long does wisdom tooth growing pain last?
The discomfort or pain associated with wisdom tooth growth can last for a few days to a couple of weeks. This varies from person to person and depends on how the tooth is emerging. If the pain is severe or persistent, it’s advisable to consult a dentist.
When to stop using gauze after wisdom tooth extraction?
Gauze is generally used to help control bleeding after extraction. Most people need to use gauze for the first few hours after the surgery. It can be removed once the bleeding has substantially reduced or stopped. If bleeding continues, consult your dentist.
When can I smoke after wisdom tooth extraction?
It is recommended to wait at least 72 hours (3 days) after wisdom tooth extraction before smoking. Smoking can hinder the healing process, increase the risk of dry sockets, and lead to infections.
Why does wisdom tooth pain come and go?
Wisdom tooth pain can be intermittent due to the way the tooth grows. It may push against other teeth, the gum, or bone, causing episodic pain. Fluctuations in pain can also occur due to changes in inflammation or infection around the tooth.
What to eat after wisdom tooth extraction?
After a wisdom tooth extraction, stick to soft, easy-to-chew foods for the first few days. Examples include yoghurt, pudding, applesauce, scrambled eggs, soup, and smoothies. Avoid hard, crunchy, or very hot foods to prevent irritation of the extraction site.
How to help wisdom tooth pain?
Wisdom tooth pain can often be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen. Applying a cold compress to the cheek can also reduce swelling and pain. Good oral hygiene and saltwater rinses can help prevent infection. If the pain is severe or doesn’t improve, consult a dentist for further management.