Wisdom Teeth Removal

Having your wisdom teeth taken out is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the UK. For many people, these teeth grow normally and do not need to be removed, however for a sizeable minority, the appearance of wisdom teeth can cause significant problems which can only be addressed by removing them.

When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

Problems most frequently develop when wisdom teeth do not come through as they should and cause bacteria and food to be trapped around the tooth and under the gum. This leads to a build up of plaque which can be difficult to remove and can result in; tooth decay, cellulitis, gum disease, jaw infections, abscesses, and, on rare occasions, cysts.

As well as not erupting fully, some wisdom teeth grow in the wrong position, even horizontally, and this can cause pain for the patient or damage to the remaining teeth. If you are experiencing any pain, you should see your dentist who will take an X-ray to assess whether or not the teeth should be extracted.

However, not all problem teeth cause pain, so regular visits to the dentist will allow any problems be noted in the early, more manageable, stages. Additionally, not all wisdom teeth problems result in surgery; some can be managed by using antiseptic mouthwash or antibiotics.

Complications Of Wisdom Tooth Removal

A common complication of wisdom teeth extraction is dry socket, a condition that occurs when a blood clot either fails to develop, or becomes dislodged too soon.

the appearance of wisdom teeth can cause cysts, gum disease, and tooth decay

Known as alveolar osteitis, dry socket can occur three to five days following the surgery, and causes pain and discomfort. If you suffer from dry socket, you can experience a throbbing sensation in the gum or jaw, and depending on whether food has entered the empty tooth socket, you may also experience an unpleasant taste or smell. Some people are at higher risk of developing this condition than others; for example, if you smoke, are over 25 years old or experienced a complicated extraction, you may be more likely to develop dry socket.

If you have had the condition previously, or failed to follow the post-operative instructions provided by your dental surgeon, you may also be at higher risk of suffering from this condition. If you suspect you are suffering from dry socket, make an appointment to see your surgeon immediately. When you return to the clinic, they will clean out the socket to eliminate any build-up of food or bacteria and help the exposed area to clot and heal properly.

A less common complication is nerve damage. If the trigeminal nerve is damaged during the extraction process, you may experience either permanent or temporary pain and numbness, which affect the gum, jaw, lip, chin or tongue. Your surgeon will make every attempt to avoid damaging this nerve however, as it can interfere with everyday activities.

Other complications can be cause by an adverse reaction to the anaesthesia, and it is common for people to experience infection and bleeding following wisdom teeth removal. Contact your dental surgeon immediately if you experience any of the above during your recovery process.

Preparing For Wisdom Teeth Removal

Prior to your procedure, your dentist will provide you with preoperative instructions that will help you prepare for your wisdom tooth extraction.

As smoking can increase the chances of the wound becoming infected, you will be asked to stop ahead of your surgery. You will also need to fast for six hours leading up to the surgery if you are having a general anaesthetic, however, in most cases the procedure will be performed under a local anaesthetic. This means you will remain awake for the procedure, but will not feel any pain. You could be provided with a sedative to help you relax in some cases. You will have a chance to discuss which type of anaesthetic will be used, and be able to ask any other questions pertaining to the procedure during a consultation. Once you are clear about what is going to happen, you can make a decision about whether you are happy to proceed, at which point you will be asked to sign a consent form should you choose to move ahead with your wisdom teeth extraction.

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Prices In Private Dental Clinics

There are many private dentists who can carry out wisdom tooth extraction and the price can vary considerably between clinics. For a relatively simple extraction, when the problem has been spotted reasonably early, prices can start of upwards of £120.

However, for a more complex procedure, for instance when the tooth is in a particularly awkward position, prices can reach up to £500. A dentist will only be able to give you an accurate quote once they have X-rayed your teeth and gained a clear understanding of your particular case.

Extraction On The NHS

Wisdom teeth can be removed on the NHS if they are causing you significant problems. The removal will come under a Band 2 charge which is currently £49. However there may be a waiting list. For people who are pregnant or have recently had a baby, or those on certain benefits, there is the option of free NHS treatment.

Extraction Procedure

The procedure for the removal of wisdom teeth is relatively simple and rarely lasts longer than twenty minutes. Patients are given an anaesthetic and then a small cut is made in the gum allowing access to the tooth. The tooth is then pulled out by the surgeon; this may be done by cutting the tooth into sections and removing it a bit at a time. Your mouth should be numb during the entire operation, so you will not feel any pain.


It can take a couple of weeks to fully recover from having your wisdom teeth taken out. You may experience swelling, pain, a stiff jaw and an unpleasant taste in your mouth. You will be advised to take at least a couple of days of work and avoid hot drinks for the first 24 hours. After that, patients are advised to treat the pain with over the counter painkillers, eat soft food for a few days, rinse their mouth with antiseptic liquid, and they may be given a course of antibiotics to prevent infection. Most patients have a check up appointment about a week to ten days after the initial procedure so their recovery can be monitored, and if any stitches were put in place they can be removed.

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