Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom Teeth – Why they cause pain and removal options. Wisdom teeth can often be problematic quite suddenly and you may require an emergency appointment. Call us at Riverstone Family Dental on 8678 3538 for emergency appointments.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth can cause you repeated episodes of pain. We will assess how likely they are to cause problems and arrange treatment for you.

Wisdom teeth are the third molars that sit in the very back of your mouth. They may start to come through the gum between the ages of 17 and 24. Wisdom teeth are very unpredictable – some people have all four while others have none. The best way to see whether you have wisdom teeth is to take a full mouth xray called an OPG.

When wisdom teeth erupt in the mouth, if there is plenty of room then they may never cause any issues. However, if there is limited space, food trapping can occur and this can then lead to inflammation and infection. A wisdom tooth can also cause pain when it starts to push up against the molar in front of it.

Symptoms of an infection related to a wisdom tooth

  • Gums at the back of your mouth will be swollen, red and painful
  • Jaw can feel stiff and it becomes very difficult to open your mouth wide
  • You have a bad taste in your mouth
  • Overall you feel tired, unwell and may develop a fever
  • You find it difficult to eat properly and start to favour the opposite side of your mouth
  • You are constantly getting food stuck behind your back tooth

Other wisdom teeth problems

  • A cyst can form around the wisdom tooth and destroy your surrounding jaw bone
  • The teeth in front of the wisdom tooth may develop problems such as cavities
  • Pain due to biting opposing gum tissue or pain when opening and closing your mouth because the wisdom tooth is cutting the inside of your cheek
  • Pushing on teeth nearby and causing pressure-related pain

Removal of wisdom teeth

Removal or extraction of wisdom teeth can be similar to extraction of any other teeth. Local anaesthetic is used to numb up the area, the tooth is loosened in its socket and then moved side to side to enable removal. In other cases, an incision must be made in the gum in order to reach the wisdom tooth. This is then followed with bone removal and removal of each root. Stitches will then be placed and in most cases they are resorbable (dissolvable) within two weeks.

After wisdom teeth removal

You can expect that pain, swelling and possibly bruising may occur. It is best to take a few days off work so you can rest and focus on pain relief and fluid intake. The swelling goes down after 4 days. In order to minimise swelling we recommend you apply ice immediately after the procedure.

What is pericoronitis?

Wisdom teeth that are partially through the gum are covered with a flap of gum tissue. This attracts food and bacteria which can sit under this gum flap leading to an infection known as pericoronitis.

Salt water gargling can help dislodge the food but in many cases you will need the help of your dentist. They can use an antibacterial irrigation to flush under the flap and prescribe antibiotics if the pericoronitis is severe. They will instruct you on good oral hygiene as this helps reduce the risk of developing pericoronitis again.

What is an operculectomy?

An operculectomy is the removal of the flap of tissue which may be partially covering a wisdom tooth. These wisdom teeth are usually partway through the gum and may never fully come through, making this area prone to recurrent infections (pericoronitis).

Some wisdom teeth need not be removed. If the tooth appears to have enough room and there is a high chance it will fully come through without spacing issues, then an operculectomy is a treatment option. At Riverstone Family Dental we will discuss all your options with you and you can decide what is best for you.

An operculectomy involves local anaesthesia to numb the area. A surgical scalpel or a laser can be used to remove the growth of tissue.


Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with a surgical or invasive procedure, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.