Overview

When you contact your dental practice or Health Board for a dental appointment, you MUST tell them if you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID19) OR you are currently self-isolating OR you have possible symptoms.

Dental practices have to comply with social distancing measures so please do not attend without having made an appointment first.

Wisdom teeth, (also called third molars) grow at the back of the mouth and are the last teeth to come through. Most people have four (two top and two bottom) wisdom teeth, although they are commonly missing.

Wisdom teeth usually emerge during the late teens or early twenties. By this time, the other 28 adult teeth are usually in place, so there isn't always room in the mouth for wisdom teeth to grow properly.

Because of the lack of space, wisdom teeth can sometimes emerge at an angle or get stuck and only partially emerge. Wisdom teeth that grow through like this are known as impacted and are more difficult to keep clean and healthy.

Wisdom tooth pain

Wisdom teeth can cause pain when they are only partially erupted into the mouth. The flap of gum that covers the biting surface of the wisdom tooth in the lower jaw can be difficult to keep clean. This can lead to swelling, inflammation and pain. The swollen flap of gum may get trapped between the teeth and this adds to the pain. Most flare-ups usually settle within 7-10 days and can often be managed at home (see advice below).

Are dental practices open if you need advice or treatment?

Yes, dental practices are open during the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic.

If your symptoms do not improve or you develop a facial swelling, you should call your dental practice. They will carry out remote consultation over the phone/video before seeing you in person at the practice if treatment is required.

If you don’t have a regular dentist, call the appropriate dental helpline number for your Local Health Board area.

What can you do at home?

Keep the area as clean as you can to stop food, plaque and bacteria collecting around the wisdom tooth. This will help to stop an infection developing.

To manage a wisdom tooth problem at home, try the following:

  1. Regularly rinse the affected area with warm, salty water or a mouthwash that contains Chlorhexidine, at a separate time to brushing or after eating.
  2. Keep the area clean with a small toothbrush, interspace brush or single tufted brush. Try half-closing your mouth when brushing the back teeth. Relaxing the muscles of the cheek and jaw can allow you to access the wisdom teeth more easily.
  3. Try a soft diet to reduce trauma to the area on biting.
  4. Painkillers such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can help to ease pain (following packet instructions). BE CAREFUL not to overdose. Remember that different brand names can contain the same painkiller.

What are the main reasons for taking wisdom teeth out?

Wisdom teeth are only removed when:

  • they are causing repeated pain and it is clear that they will not be able to come through fully in the mouth OR
  • they have only partly come through and are decayed OR
  • other reasons, which dentists can explain (e.g. a cyst around a wisdom tooth)

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation, there may be a longer wait for removal of wisdom teeth if you require referral to a specialist in another practice or a consultant in hospital.

Are wisdom teeth difficult to take out?

It depends on the position and the shape of the roots. Your dentist will tell you how easy or difficult each tooth will be to remove after seeing you and looking at an x-ray.

What should I expect after a wisdom tooth is taken out?

You can expect some discomfort. The amount of discomfort will depend on how easy it was to remove the wisdom tooth. Removing a wisdom tooth may also cause some swelling for a few days. There may be other risks associated with taking a wisdom tooth out which your dentist/surgeon will explain before taking it out e.g. temporary or permanent numbness of the lip.

The dental team will provide you with advice on mouth care after an extraction.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 20/07/2020 07:10:58