Wisdom teeth removal – taking the fear out of the procedure


Wisdom teeth are the large teeth located right at the back of your mouth and are generally the last teeth to come through. There isn’t always enough room in the mouth for them to grow properly, and this can sometimes cause can cause dental problems.

At NFDC, Dr Carolyn and her team have years of experience with wisdom teeth and best practice for removal. Here we endeavour to answer some of the questions frequently asked, but if you have any other enquiries, do feel free to contact us to discuss your needs.


Contact us to discuss your wisdom teeth enquiry

An overview of wisdom teeth
  • Not everyone develops all (or any!) of their wisdom teeth, however most people have 4 wisdom teeth – one in each corner of the mouth.
  • Wisdom teeth usually grow through your gums between the ages of 17 and 25, supposedly a sign of your “growing wisdom”!
  • By the time they emerge, the other 28 adult teeth are usually in place, so there isn’t always enough space in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to grow properly.
  • Because of this lack of space, the wisdom teeth can sometimes grow at an angle or get stuck and only partially emerge. Wisdom teeth that grow through like this are known as “impacted”
  • Your wisdom teeth usually don’t need to be removed unless they’re impacted and are causing problems.
When should I see a dentist about my wisdom teeth?

If you have any pain or infection, make an appointment with us to have a consult. We most likely will need to take an x-ray while you’re here to ensure we have the best view possible of how your wisdom teeth are positioned. Don’t have any pain or any other problems? No need to see a dentist urgently, but do continue with your regular dental check-ups and maintenance cleaning every 6-12 months.

wisdom teeth removalWill I need to get the tooth or teeth removed?

If they are not causing you any problems, there is usually no need to get your wisdom removed. However, you may not notice some problems, such as decay, so it’s important to see your dentist regularly.

If we envision there to be a problem later on, we may recommend you have them removed before you experience any issues. It is also easier to remove wisdom teeth when you are younger because as we age, the bone becomes less flexible and healing is generally slower.

How do you decide whether to remove wisdom teeth?

Dr Carolyn may recommend removing your wisdom teeth due to any of the following issues; tooth decay in the wisdom tooth OR in the adjacent tooth if the wisdom tooth is impacted retaining bacteria and food abscesses (pus in your wisdom teeth or the surrounding tissue), an infection of your gum caused by an erupting wisdom tooth (pericoronitis), periodontal (gum) disease, or an infection of your connective tissue (cellulitis), an infection of your bones (osteomyelitis)

What is involved when wisdom teeth are extracted?

Depending on the positioning of the teeth, an extraction can be simple or complicated. Dr Carolyn will discuss the procedure with you prior to ensure you feel informed and comfortable with the process. The following procedures provide an overview of how wisdom teeth are extracted;

  1. Routine, uncomplicated removal of a single wisdom tooth can usually be done in your dentist’s surgery, using a local anaesthetic.
  2. Less routine removal may require the use of a sedative combined with a local anaesthetic. Only certain dentists are qualified to use sedation in their surgery, we will be happy to discuss options with you.
  3. Complicated surgery, or the removal of a number of wisdom teeth, may require a general anaesthetic. This must be done in a fully equipped operating theatre, with an appropriately qualified surgeon, anaesthetist and theatre staff.
What happens after my extraction?

As with any surgical procedure, you are likely to have some swelling, bleeding, bruising and discomfort after having your wisdom tooth or teeth extraction. You may also have some temporary numbness of your tongue, lip or chin or other teeth.

When removing an impacted wisdom tooth, it may be necessary to make a cut in your gum, remove bone and sometimes there is need to cut the tooth into pieces in order to remove it. So you may be left with stitches after the extraction (unlike in other dental extractions).

How can I help myself recover after my extraction?

The risks associated with wisdom teeth extraction are increased through stress, poor oral hygiene and getting an upper respiratory tract infection. You can reduce these risks by taking the following steps:

  • wisdom teet hurtingTake time off work or study to recover.
  • Rest for the first 24 hours – overexerting yourself can put pressure on the surgery site and increase pain and bleeding.
  • Keep the area around the extraction clean – follow your dentist’s advice.
  • Avoid chewing on the surgery site for 24 hours – try switching to a soft diet for a few days.
  • Avoid smoking, which slows healing.
  • Avoid alcohol as this can promote post-operative bleeding.
  • Avoid sucking or spitting as this can promote bleeding and dislodge the blood clot, which may lead to dry socket.
  • Control swelling by using an ice pack.
  • Manage any pain with an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen (not aspirin, which can increase bleeding).
  • After 24 hours, start regular, gentle rinses of your mouth with a warm saline (salt water) solution, if recommended by your dentist.
  • Contact your dentist if you develop any unusual bleeding, swelling or pain.
How can I prevent myself from having wisdom teeth issues in the first place?

To prevent issues, take extra care of wisdom teeth that have not fully come through.

  • Floss between all your teeth, especially between the wisdom teeth and the teeth in front of them.
  • Ensure that your brush reaches all the way to the back when brushing your teeth.
  • Rinse with a saline solution (salt dissolved in warm water) if you have any early signs of infection, such as redness, heat or tenderness in the area.

Hopefully this overview of  wisdom teeth extraction and the processes involved will help to establish a clear understanding of what to expect. If you need to discuss your wisdom teeth further, or are suffering any pain or issues, please do get in touch with Dr Carolyn and the team via the button below.


Book a consult with Newmarket Family Dental Care



**excerpts taken from Health Navigator NZ