Wisdom Teeth St John WA

If my wisdom teeth aren’t hurting, do I need them removed?

If you’ve still got your wisdom teeth, your dentist might suggest having them removed. It’s reasonable to ask why you would have them out if they’re not hurting. But there are many valid reasons to consider the procedure, even if your wisdom teeth are not causing pain.

What’s the problem with keeping wisdom teeth?

Today we live on a refined diet and eat just a fraction of the raw foods our prehistoric ancestors did. Instead of having a broad strong jaw to support a primal diet, the size and shape of our mouth and jaw has evolved to suit our modern-day lifestyles. As a result, we no longer have as much room in our mouth for the third set of grinding molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth.

Dr Tanjum Sethi

Dr Tanjum Sethi

St John Dental family dentist Dr Tanjum Sethi says unfortunately wisdom teeth can have an adverse effect on surrounding teeth because they often don’t have room to grow. This also makes them extremely difficult to correctly care for.

“Having wisdom teeth removed is actually good preventative dental,” Dr Sethi says.

Erupting wisdom teeth can grow at an angle, sometimes horizontally. Or they can remain completely hidden within the gums. If they can’t emerge normally they can become trapped in the jaw, which is referred to as ‘impacted’. This can result in infection or cause a cyst that can damage the roots of other teeth or the supporting bone.

If teeth emerge only partially through the gums, they can be hard to clean. This creates an ideal environment for bacteria which can cause gum disease and infection.

Wisdom teeth can also crowd nearby teeth if they don’t have enough room, pushing on or potentially damaging nearby teeth.

Dr Sethi says whilst a person may not be experiencing immediate pain with their wisdom teeth, it can be inevitable at some stage. And having them removed sooner can save the more useful surrounding teeth which could otherwise be damaged.

Will having my wisdom teeth removed hurt?

Wisdom teeth are more easily removed at a younger age, between 17-25 when the bone is more elastic and the tooth comes out easier, which generally results in a faster recovery. As we become older, the surrounding bone and roots become more dense and solid, and the wisdom teeth are more likely to adversely compromise the surrounding teeth.

“These days we know a lot about a person’s wisdom teeth before they are removed. X-rays can identify any complexities in advance, and if required, a CT scan showing the tooth and nerves in 3D can also be taken. This allows us to see exactly what we’re dealing with and the best course of action,” says Dr Sethi.

There are a number of pain relief options when it comes to having wisdom teeth removed. If patients are awake for the procedure, they may experience the sensation of pressure, pushing and tugging, rather than sharp pain. The procedure is relatively quick, and in many cases, the extraction of four wisdom teeth can be completed in an hour.

Swelling is less common with current extraction techniques, and your dentist may also administer an anti-swelling medication during the procedure to prevent this from happening.

After the procedure, patients may experience some discomfort in the first 2-3 days during which they can take prescribed pain relief medication. They may be sore for up to a week however can usually get on with their day-to-day activities within a couple of days.

Dental patient in chair at St John WA Dental


What anaesthetic options are available for wisdom teeth removal?

Your dentist will discuss anaesthetic and sedation options with you based on your individual circumstances, and in many cases wisdom teeth can be removed at your dental clinic.  If this is the case, your dentist may recommend:

  • A combination of Valium and a local anaesthetic which will relax the patient and allow them to be awake throughout the procedure
  • A combination of Nitrous gas and a local anaesthetic
  • Intravenous (IV) sedation, also known as twilight sedation, which induces a semi-conscious but sleep-like state

If wisdom teeth are removed in a hospital setting, the patient may undergo either twilight sedation or a general anaesthetic.

Usually your dentist will make a recommendation based on a number of factors, including the complexity of the removal, whether the teeth are upper, lower or a combination of both, and the level of anxiety a patient may be feeling about the procedure.

What to expect after wisdom teeth removal surgery

To ensure the best recovery, the following steps are recommended:

  • Do not drive for 24 hours if you have undergone a twilight or general anaesthetic. Driving should also be avoided if you’re taking certain pain relief medications – check with your dentist.
  • Usually there will be stitches at the surgery site which could be dissolvable or non-dissolvable. A small clot should naturally form over the site which protects the area and assists healing.
  • Avoid brushing and rinsing within 24 hours of surgery, and when you do start brushing, be gentle around the surgery site. Minimise swishing water inside the mouth when you rinse and do not vigorously spit. The day after surgery you can use a salt water rinse after meals.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty water after surgery. Initially you should avoid alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks, and anything hot (the anaesthetic will reduce sensitivity in the mouth – you don’t want to burn yourself!)
  • Patients may prefer to eat soft food but normal eating can be resumed almost immediately. It is important however to avoid slurping from a spoon or using a straw – these actions can dislodge the clot or stitches and prolong the healing period. Hot food should also be avoided while the anaesthetic is still present.
  • Smoking should be avoided for the week following surgery. Smoking can dislodge the clot and disrupt the healing process.
  • And lastly, rest. Minimise physical immediately after surgery and take it slow in the days following. You can get more mobile the day after your surgery and begin exercise from three days after, depending on individual circumstances.

Discussing your wisdom teeth removal at St John Dental

Not all wisdom teeth require removal, although it can assist your overall health and wellbeing. Your St John Dentist will be able to examine, x-ray and advise on your individual circumstances and best course of action.

St John Dental have locations across the Perth Metro area, including Armadale, Cannington, Cockburn, Joondalup, Midland, and a new centre opening at Osborne Park in May 2022. Its team of professional and caring dental practitioners provide ongoing and regular family care to patients as well as emergency dental. Book in to see your favourite dentist at St John Dental today.

Dr Tanjum Sethi is based at St John Dental Midland. You can book a consultation with Dr Tanjum Sethi.

Share this: