Wisdom teeth start to appear at the back of the mouth usually between ages 17 and 25. Some people are in their thirties before they appear while some people never have their wisdom teeth come down at all.
The majority of people have no problem with their wisdom teeth, apart from a little discomfort as they break through the gum. However, for some people the situation is very different. If the mouth and jaw are small, there may be insufficient room for the wisdom teeth to fit and this causes pain and discomfort. As they try to break through the gum, the wisdom teeth may push the other teeth out of alignment which could make biting and chewing difficult. Problem wisdom teeth may also lead to headaches, jaw and sinus pain.
These are some of the problems that will need to be assessed by a qualified dentist or oral surgeon. The first step is to make an appointment with the surgeon who will examine your mouth, gums and teeth and probably take some X-rays. He or she will show you the results of the X-rays and explain your options for treatment. Sometimes the decision is made to leave the wisdom teeth and make a follow-up appointment for a few months later to check on the progress. Sometimes the situation will require surgery to remove all or some of the problem teeth.
If surgery is necessary, your oral surgeon will explain the procedure to you and give you some options. Some surgeons prefer to do the operation under general anesthetic in a hospital or day clinic, particularly if several teeth need to be removed. Your surgery may be able to be performed in the surgeon’s office under local anesthetic or intravenous sedation. You may be given a choice as to which method you prefer. The local anesthetic will not allow you to feel any pain, but you will be completely awake and aware of everything going on around you. Some people find this a little unnerving or even frightening. The intravenous sedation method means that you will only be vaguely aware of your surroundings, if at all.
After your surgery, you will probably be uncomfortable and feel some pain for a day or two. Your surgeon will explain the after-care procedure to you and prescribe some pain medication. It is best if you have someone to drive you home, as you may not feel like driving; if you have had the IV sedation, you will be unable to drive at all. You will not be able to eat some things for two or three days, as you would expect. Take the pain medication so that you make yourself as comfortable as possible after your surgery.
There will probably be a follow-up appointment with the surgeon and after that, with your wisdom teeth out of the way, you will notice a great improvement to your general health.