Wisdom Teeth Extraction

The removal of wisdom teeth, or third molar, is one of the most common procedures carried out in the UK. Wisdom teeth are the last to come through; most people have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner. Your wisdom teeth usually grow through the gums during your late teens or early twenties, this can cause problems as by this time all 28 of your adult teeth are in place and there sometimes isn’t enough room in your mouth for the new wisdom teeth. This means that these wisdom teeth can emerge at an angle or get stuck and only partially emerge. You should see your dentist if you are experiencing severe pain or discomfort from your wisdom teeth.

How are Wisdom Teeth removed?

Either a dentist or a specialist surgeon working in a hospital can remove your wisdom teeth. If it has been recommended you have your wisdom teeth removed, an X-ray of your mouth will be taken to determine who should carry out the procedure.

Before your wisdom teeth are removed, you will be given an injection of local anaesthetic in order to numb the tooth and surrounding area.

If the procedure is making you very anxious, the dentist or surgeon may offer you a sedative to help you to relax. This usually involves an injection in the arm. General anaesthetic is rarely used.

The Procedure

The procedure is dependent upon whether or not the wisdom tooth has pushed through the gum or not. If the tooth has not come through the gum a small incision is made into the gum to access it. The surgeon may also need to remove a small piece of bone covering the tooth. The tooth may also need to be cut into small parts to make it easier to remove through the opening. You will feel some pressure just before the tooth is removed; this is due to the dentist or surgeon needing to widen the tooth socket by rocking the tooth back and forth before taking it out.

This surgery should not be painful as the area is numbed, if at any point during the procedure you feel pain let the dentist or surgeon know and they can give you more anaesthetic.

The procedure length can vary in time scale: a simple procedure can take a few minutes, but it can take longer than 20 minutes if it is more complicated.


If an incision is made during the procedure, dissolvable stitches will be used to seal the gum. A Gauze may be placed over the site of extraction and you will be asked to keep pressure on it by biting your jaws together for up to an hour. This is to allow a blood clot to form in the empty tooth socket. These blood clots are part of the healing process, so try not to dislodge them. Antibiotics may be prescribed in some cases if you have an ongoing infection.

For the 24hrs following the procedure you should avoid:

  • Rinsing your mouth out with liquid
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking
  • Drinking hot liquids such as tea or soup
  • Strenuous physical activity

It can take up to two weeks to fully recover after wisdom tooth removal. During this time, you could possibly experience the following:

  • Swelling (inflammation) of your mouth and cheeks- this is usually at its worst for the first few days, applying gentle pressure with a cold cloth to your face will help reduce the swelling
  • A stiff, sore jaw- this takes between 7-10 days to wear off and the skin around your jaw may also be bruised for up to two weeks
  • Pain - This usually worse if the extraction was complicated
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Tingling or numbness of your face, lips or tongue- (although this is uncommon)

If you have any excess bleeding, severe pain or anything else unusual you should report these to your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.

To reduce pain and aid your recovery, you can use Paracetamol or ibuprofen, and gently rinse the extraction site with antiseptic mouthwash. Your dentist or surgeon may recommend other options. If you have had a local anaesthetic you can drive after the procedure, but you should avoid driving if you have had a sedative or if a general anaesthetic was used.

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