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Exeter Hospital

Wonford Road, Exeter, EX2 4UG

01392 276 591
Switchboard 01392 276591
Enquiries 01392 276 591
Bookings 01392 262 114
Radiology 01392 262 119
Pathology South West 01392 262 165

What are wisdom teeth?

They tend to come through (erupt) in the late teens or twenties. Some wisdom teeth do not come through fully (partly erupt) and get stuck (or impacted). This often leaves a flap of gum over the tooth. Others grow too long (over erupt).

A wisdom tooth may need to be removed for several reasons such as tooth decay, repeated infection, to make space for other teeth or to prevent damage to the cheek or gum.

What happens during wisdom tooth removal?

Most upper wisdom teeth can be removed easily under a local anaesthetic. Lower wisdom teeth can be more difficult to remove. The operation usually takes between ten minutes and an hour.

Sometimes a general anaesthetic is needed. Removing a wisdom tooth can involve cutting the gum to uncover the tooth, removing bone around the tooth and dividing the tooth with a drill.

After wisdom tooth removal?

You should be able to go home the same day of your operation.

Depending on the difficulty of the operation and the likelihood of infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics.

You should avoid any strenuous activities for the first 48 hours to reduce the risk of bleeding, swelling and bruising. You may need to take up to a week off work.

Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities very soon after having wisdom teeth removed. As with any surgery there can be complications:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Infection

Specific complications of removing wisdom teeth:

  • Dry socket
  • Retained roots
  • Damage to nearby teeth
  • Sinus problems
  • Broken jaw
  • Not being able to open the mouth fully (trismus) and jaw stiffness
  • Damage to nerves