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Wisdom Teeth Removal Guide: Treatment - Costs - Recovery & More

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, or third and final molars, are the last four teeth to erupt and generally come in during the late teen years or early twenties. Because the jawbone has fully grown to its adult size during the late teen years, the jaw is often too small to accommodate the new wisdom teeth comfortably. This is why the development of wisdom teeth commonly causes pain and discomfort, and can lead to more serious issues that require wisdom teeth removal.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Treatment

Wisdom Teeth Removal Treatment

Wisdom Teeth Removal Procedure

At your consultation, your approved dentist will advise whether your wisdom teeth are fine or likely to cause problems. If your wisdom teeth are likely to be problematic, your dentist may recommend an extraction.

Here is an outline of what you can expect during your wisdom teeth removal procedure:

  1. Your dentist will use local anaesthesia, sedation or general anaesthesia in order to numb your mouth and/or suppress your consciousness during the surgery
  2. An incision will be made in the gum to expose the tooth and bone
  3. If any bone is blocking access to the root of the tooth, it will be removed
  4. If the tooth is difficult to remove, it may be divided into several pieces
  5. The tooth is removed
  6. The extraction site is cleaned and any remaining debris is removed
  7. The site is stitched up if required for healing
  8. Gauze is placed over the site to control any bleeding and assist the formation of a blood clot.

How Long Does It Take To Remove Wisdom Teeth?

The duration of a wisdom tooth extraction depends on how many teeth need to be extracted. It can take up to an hour and a half to remove all four wisdom teeth.

Do I Need to Get My Wisdom Teeth Out?

Depending on the size of your jaw and how your wisdom teeth develop, you may not experience any issues with your wisdom teeth. The best way to determine whether you require wisdom teeth removal or not is to visit one of our approved dentists for a professional evaluation and assessment.

At your consultation, your approved dentist will:

  • Review your dental history
  • Take x-rays
  • Examine the general health of your mouth
  • Assess the condition of your wisdom teeth

If your dentist detects an issue with your wisdom teeth, surgery may be recommended to have them removed and eliminate (or avoid) any uncomfortable symptoms. Early removal is generally the best option as it helps to avoid more serious issues in the future.

It is important that you discuss the procedure, risks, possible complications and outcomes with your approved dentist. The procedure may be performed by the dentist or you may be referred to a specialist. This is dependent on the dentist’s preferences and your individual circumstances. If you decide not to proceed with the wisdom tooth removal procedure, ensure your wisdom teeth are monitored at each dental visit to a approved dentist.

Why Have a Wisdom Tooth Removed?

Wisdom teeth can cause serious issues and severe pain. If a problem is detected with the development of your wisdom tooth, it is advised that you have it removed as soon as possible. The most common reasons for having your wisdom teeth removed include:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum infection
  • Pressure pain
  • Orthodontic reasons
  • Prosthetic reasons
  • Cyst formation

Tooth Decay

If your wisdom tooth is impacted, saliva, bacteria and food can accumulate around it. This causes decay to the wisdom tooth or the tooth beside it. This often leads to a painful infection.

Gum Infection

If your tooth has partially erupted through the gum, food particles and / or bacteria can accumulate beneath the gum which results in a local infection. This can lead to pain, swelling and bad breath. You may even find it difficult to chew or open your mouth fully. This infection can spread to the cheek and neck.

Pressure Pain

When a wisdom tooth develops, it can cause a lot of pressure against the other teeth in the mouth as they try to make room. This can cause severe pressure pain and can even lead to erosion of the other teeth.

Orthodontic Reasons

If you have received orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth, your wisdom teeth can compromise the results by moving your teeth out of place.

Prosthetic Reasons

When a patient requires dentures, they are advised to have any wisdom teeth removed. If a wisdom tooth grows in beneath a denture, it can lead to irritation. If it is then removed, the patient will require new dentures as this changes the shape of the gums and mouth.

Cyst Formation

A cyst (fluid-filled sac) can form from the tissue surrounding an impacted wisdom tooth. This can lead to bone destruction, jaw enlargement and movement or decay of nearby teeth. The removal of the tooth and cyst is required to avoid further bone loss. Tumours can develop inside these cysts and they can even result in a fractured jaw if left to grow.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Costs

The cost of wisdom teeth removal is dependent on your individual circumstances. Factors such as which anaesthesia was used and the nature of the extraction can have an impact on the overall price of the procedure. members:

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Wisdom Teeth Removal Cost Comparison

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Item No.

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Regular patients pay

Example fees
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with dental cover, that's a saving of !

Source: ADA annual dental survey conducted in October 2016.

This example is a guide only. Your personal situation should be discussed with your approved dentist.

*This fee will be reduced by 15% off the practice’s regular fee.

Common Problems with Wisdom Teeth

Many people experience issues with their wisdom teeth. The most common problems caused by wisdom teeth include:

  • Pain
  • Damage to nearby teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Cysts
  • Decay
  • Infection

Other common problems caused by wisdom teeth include:

  • Teeth crowding
  • Swelling
  • Red or inflamed gum tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen and sore lymph nodes

You may experience pain or swelling while your wisdom teeth grow in, or you may have no symptoms at all, even though your other teeth may be at risk of damage. This is why it is so important to have a wisdom tooth assessment performed by a professional dentist.

Do I Need to Remove an Impacted Wisdom Tooth If it Isn’t Causing Any Problems?

When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it is almost certain to cause issues if ignored, especially if it is a lower wisdom tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth are also notorious for causing severe pain. It is best to have an impacted wisdom tooth removed as soon as the problem is detected as to avoid any further issues.

How Can I Prepare Before Removing My Wisdom Teeth?

In most cases, wisdom teeth removal can be performed as an in-chair procedure. This means that you will go home the same day as your procedure. Prior to your procedure, you can prepare by:

  1. Arranging transport
  2. Avoiding eating or drinking before surgery (if necessary)
  3. Arriving early
  4. Being prepared for anaesthesia
  5. Discussing questions with your dentist
  6. Preparing post-operative care
  7. Taking time off to recover

Arranging transport

It's best to arrange a lift home for after your surgery, as you won't be able to drive home after your procedure. Ask a friend or relative to accompany you to the dental clinic.

Avoiding eating or drinking before surgery

It's important to ask your approved dentist whether you need to fast before your wisdom teeth removal treatment. You can ask your dentist if they advise that you avoid eating or drinking before surgery during your consultation.

Arriving Early

Make sure you leave your home early so you can be on time for your treatment. By arriving on time, you give your dentist time to prepare for your procedure. You also give yourself time to feel comfortable and relax.

Being Prepared for Anaesthesia

Your approved dentist may use one of three types of anaesthesia. It’s important to discuss your options before your procedure. Depending on the complexity of your procedure and your comfort level, your options may include:

  • Local Anaesthesia
  • Sedation Anaesthesia
  • General Anaesthesia

Preparing Post-Operative Care

After removing your wisdom teeth, you will need pain medication and a cold pack to alleviate swelling. If your dentist has not prescribed you a pain reliever, you can use over-the-counter pain medication. For your convenience, you should have cold packs and pain medication prepared before you have your wisdom teeth removed.

Taking Time Off To Recover

Arrange beforehand to take time off from work or school. You may also need to arrange child care or pet care.

What Should I Ask My Dentist About My Wisdom Teeth Removal Treatment?

You should ask any questions about your upcoming wisdom teeth removal procedure that you feel like you need or want to know. Your approved dentist will happily answer your questions. Common questions to ask include:

  • How complicated do you expect the procedure to be?
  • How long will the procedure take?
  • What type of anaesthesia will I need?
  • Do I need to fast before surgery?
  • Have my wisdom teeth caused any damage to the other teeth?
  • Is there a risk that I might experience nerve damage?
  • How many wisdom teeth do I need to have removed?
  • How long will it take to recover fully and return to normal activity?
  • Are there any other treatments I might require after wisdom tooth extraction?
  • What should I avoid immediately after surgery?

If your approved dentist intends to prescribe pain relief, you can ask your dentist to let you fill the prescription a day early. By getting your pain medication early, you can avoid a trip to the pharmacy while groggy.

What to Expect After the Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure

If you have been given sedation or general anaesthesia, you will be taken to a recovery room after the procedure. In the case where you have received local anaesthesia, you are given a brief amount of time to recover in the dental chair. You may require to have a friend or relative drive you home. Your approved dentist will advise you if this is necessary prior to your surgery. You may also be prescribed medication to manage the pain.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Benefits of Removing a Wisdom Tooth

From general oral hygiene to eliminating painful and unpleasant symptoms, there are many benefits to getting your wisdom teeth extracted.

  • You may find it difficult to reach your wisdom teeth with your toothbrush or floss. This leads to a build-up of bacteria, sugars and acids that can result in a cavity. If not restored with a filling, the cavity may spread and damage more of the tooth and surrounding structures.
  • Being so hard to access with your daily oral hygiene regime, this accumulation of bacteria and food debris can cause bad breath.
  • If your wisdom tooth is still under the gums, growing in horizontally rather than vertically, this can put a lot of pressure on the surrounding teeth, leading to crowded and crooked teeth. This can also occur when there is not enough space in the jawbone or mouth to accommodate the wisdom tooth. You may require braces to repair the damage.
  • While still under the gums, your wisdom tooth can become irritated. The gum tissue sitting over the tooth can accumulate bacteria and food debris before becoming infected.
  • There is a possibility that further issues will occur the longer you wait and the older you get. This is because as you age, the jawbone surrounding the tooth becomes progressively dense making the tooth more problematic to extract. It may also take longer to heal.

By removing your wisdom teeth, you avoid potential damage to your other teeth. You also avoid other problems associated with wisdom teeth, including cysts, decay, and gum disease. As you age, wisdom teeth removal surgery becomes more difficult and complex, which in turns involves a longer recovery and higher risks.

Because they are hard to clean, your wisdom teeth may be more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease than your other teeth. When an impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected, damages surrounding teeth, or causes other infections, you may experience the following:

  • Swollen, tender, red, or bleeding gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Swelling around the jaw area
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty opening your mouth

Disadvantages of Removing a Wisdom Tooth

As with every medical procedure, wisdom tooth removal may also have disadvantages.

Depending on the size, shape and position of your wisdom tooth, removal can range from being a simple extraction to a more complex process. In the case of a simple extraction, you can generally expect little swelling, bruising and bleeding. More complex extractions will often result in more severe bruising, swelling and bleeding. Your approved dentist will provide post-operative care instructions to alleviate any pain or discomfort caused by the procedure.

You may experience a longer healing process if you wait to remove your wisdom teeth. The longer you wait, and the more you age, the more potential for problems to arise. As you age, the bone surrounding your wisdom tooth becomes denser, which increases the complexity of your extraction.

After your procedure, you may experience a condition called "dry socket". Less than 5% of people develop this condition following a tooth extraction. While uncomfortable, this condition is easily treatable. Once a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms to protect the bone and nerves underneath. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot becomes dislodged or dissolves, leaving the bone and nerves exposed to anything that enters the mouth, such as air, food, or fluid. You are more likely to experience dry socket if you:

  • Smoke
  • Have poor oral hygiene
  • Have wisdom teeth pulled
  • Have severe trauma during your tooth extraction
  • Use birth control bills
  • Have a history of dry socket

Is it Painful to Remove Wisdom Teeth?

You will likely experience pain, bleeding, and swelling after extracting your wisdom teeth. While your mouth heals, be careful to not dislodge the blood clot or harm your gums. You can alleviate swelling with an ice bag or frozen vegetable bag. Your approved dentist will use anaesthetic during your extraction, so the procedure itself will not be painful.

How Can I Reduce The Pain of Wisdom Teeth Removal?

You can reduce the pain of removing your wisdom teeth by following your dentist’s post-operative care instructions. Your approved dentist may also prescribe pain medication, which you can take to manage post-operative pain or discomfort. The most severe pain will occur within six hours of the anaesthetic wearing off. Some patients find that stronger pain medicine makes them nauseous, but this can be minimised by eating before taking medication. You can also apply an ice bag or frozen vegetable bag to your jaw for the first 36 hours to reduce swelling and pain.

Will I Need Anaesthesia?

General anaesthetic is rarely necessary as most wisdom teeth extractions can be done in-chair.

Your dentist will typically give you an injection of local anaesthetic to numb your tooth and the surrounding area. While you will be awake during the procedure and may experience some pressure, you should not feel any pain. You may also breathe in nitrous oxide to relax during the extraction. Alternatively, you can also receive sedation anaesthesia through an intravenous line in your arm.

What Can I Eat After A Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

After your wisdom tooth removal procedure, you should eat soft food for the first four to seven days. Protein-rich foods, such as yoghurt, ice cream and cottage cheese are especially good to eat as they are easy to chew and swallow. Applesauce and fruit smoothies are great at increasing your vitamin intake from fruit, however, you must remember to not use a straw. There are many hearty and filling foods that are also particularly easy to chew, including:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soft fish
  • Finely cut meats
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Thin soups

What Should I Avoid After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

After your wisdom tooth extraction, your mouth may remain numb for a short period of time, depending on the anaesthetic used. Be mindful not to consume hot foods or drinks while your mouth is still numb. Similarly, it's easier to bite your tongue, cheek or lips during this period, so avoid chewy foods. Spicy foods can increase irritation and delay healing, so it's best to avoid for the first four to seven days. Similarly, hard, crunchy, sticky, or sharp foods should be avoided to prevent gum tissue damage. Foods to avoid may include popcorn with hulls, chips, nuts, seeds, and hard pretzels.

For the first 24 hours following your wisdom tooth extraction, you should avoid:

  • Rinsing your mouth out harshly with liquid mouthwash
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking, as it can hinder the healing blood clot and cause irritation
  • Hot beverages and food
  • Strenuous physical activities
  • Eating hard, crunchy, sharp, or sticky food
  • Drinking through a straw, as sucking may loosen or dislodge blood clots

What Should I Do Once My Wisdom Teeth Are Finally Removed?

First Hour

In the first hour after you’ve had your wisdom teeth extracted, it’s important to maintain gentle pressure on the gauze pads, which are placed over the extraction sites. You may be able to remove the pads after one hour to replace the gauze. After this, you should change the gauze as necessary. After the bleeding relents, or slows, you can stop using the gauze pads. There is no need to keep gauze pads in your mouth if you are not actively bleeding.

Take Care

It’s important to exercise care and not disturb the surgical area. You should not rinse vigorously or probe the area, nor should you harshly brush your teeth. During this time, smoking will hinder the healing process and can increase the chance of dry sockets, which can cause severe pain and discomfort.

Oral Hygiene

While you should brush your teeth the night of your extraction, you can minimise irritation with gentle strokes. You may be told to avoid brushing, flossing and rinsing for 24 hours. Your approved dentist might recommend that you gently rinse saltwater in your mouth 24 hours after surgery, three times a day.


Patients typically spend the first day recovering from the removal on bed rest. Strenuous activity, such as bending or lifting, can hinder the healing process and cause increased swelling, pain, and bleeding. It is often recommended that exercise is avoided for three to four days following wisdom teeth removal.


You will experience bleeding after removing your wisdom teeth, often for up to 24 to 48 hours. You can minimise any oozing blood by apply gauze pads and constantly applying gentle pressure. Replace the gauze pads as required every 30 to 45 minutes.

Persistent Bleeding

If you experience severe and uncontrolled bleeding, try repositioning the gauze pads, sitting upright, using ice bags, and biting on a moistened tea bag to help reduce bleeding. If bleeding persists, contact your approved dentist.


It is normal to experience swelling after a wisdom tooth extraction. You can apply ice bags or frozen vegetable bags to the affected area for twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off. Your approved dentist may prescribe medication to alleviate swelling. The swelling will not reach its peak until 2 to 3 days after the extraction.


Avoid extremely hot foods and beverages. Similarly, you should not use a straw for the first few days after surgery. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and start with soft foods like pasta, mashed potatoes, or soup.


Nausea and vomiting may occur if you have swallowed blood or because of discomfort, anaesthesia, or strong pain medication. Flat ginger ale and coca cola can help reduce nausea, as can plain crackers.

Can I Smoke After A Wisdom Teeth Extraction?

You should not smoke for at least 24 hours after surgery. Smoking hinders healing, promotes bleeding, and increases your risk of complications, including dry socket.

Can I Drive After Removing My Wisdom Teeth?

Depending on your anaesthesia, you may be able to drive home after removing your wisdom teeth. However, it can take time to regain coordination and alertness after anaesthesia. It is typically recommended that you organise a lift home from the dentist.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Wisdom Tooth Removal?

If you take care to follow your approved dentist's aftercare instructions, you can expect to fully recover within one to two weeks. Your recovery will depend on the complexity of the procedure and number of wisdom teeth removed. While rare, complications such as dry socket, infection, and incessant bleeding can occur. Your healing process may take longer if you are older and experience a chronic health condition like diabetes or respiratory illness.

How Do I Recover After Removing Wisdom Teeth?

To recover from your wisdom teeth removal, take some time off to rest. You can apply an ice bag or frozen vegetable bag over your jaw to reduce inflammation and ease any discomfort. You should absolutely not disturb the wound. Disturbing the wound may result in irritation, infection, or bleeding. You should follow your approved dentist's aftercare instructions, especially in regards to the following:


You can typically resume normal activities the day after your extraction, however, you should avoid strenuous activity. Vigorous activity can result in dislodging the blood clot and hinder the healing process.

Food and Drink

You should drink lots of water after surgery. Avoid drinking alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages immediately after the removal. Similarly, it's important to avoid drinking through a straw as this can dislodge the blood clot. Avoid irritating, hot, crunchy, or chewy foods.

Pain Management

Your approved dentist may prescribe pain medication to alleviate discomfort. In addition to this, you can also use over-the-counter pain medication. You can use an ice bag or frozen vegetable bag to help reduce swelling.

Bleeding, Swelling, and Bruising

Swelling and bruising typically improves in two or three days. Your approved dentist may advise that after twenty-four hours, you start rinsing with warm salt water every two hours to promote healing. To make the rinse, add one teaspoon of salt to eight ounces of warm water.

Some oozing might occur the first day after your wisdom tooth removal. Be gentle around the extraction site to avoid disrupting the blood clot or stitches. Make sure you follow your approved dentist's directions about when to replace the gauze pads.


It's important to avoid smoking for at least twenty-four hours after your extraction. If you chew tobacco, avoid using it for at least one week. Tobacco can hinder healing, promote bleeding, and increase the risk of complications, including the condition 'dry socket'.


You may receive stitches as part of your wisdom tooth extraction. Your stitches may dissolve in a few weeks or alternatively, you may need to schedule an appointment with your approved dentist to have them taken out.

Are There Home-Remedies To Alleviate Pain Before a Wisdom Tooth Removal?

There are many home-remedies available to help alleviate pain caused by a wisdom tooth. These remedies often include using warm salt water, cloves and clove oil, ice, onion, cucumber slices, tea bags, baking soda paste, or peppermint. If you are experiencing pain from your wisdom tooth, your approved dentist will be able to help you find a long term solution. These remedies are short-term fixes and are not appropriate long term methods for managing your wisdom teeth.

Cloves and Clove Oil

Cloves (or clove oil) has been used for years to alleviate the pain of toothaches and wisdom teeth. Place a whole clove (not crushed or cut) directly on the spot in your mouth causing the most irritation. Alternatively, you can use clove oil on a cotton ball. It is typically recommended you leave it there until you experience a numbing sensation. This home remedy is popular because it not only numbs the pain but also prevents infection due to its antibacterial and antiseptic qualities.

Sore Mouth Rinse

This is one of the easiest remedies for relieving wisdom teeth pain. Simply mix a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt. Then, rinse your mouth with warm salt water for one to three minutes before spitting it into the sink. Repeat this process every few hours to start experiencing pain relief.


You can also use an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Ibuprofen, to help alleviate pain.

Ice or Frozen Vegetables

If you are experiencing pain from swelling, you can simply apply an ice bag to the swollen area. This will help relieve pain and reduce the inflammation. You can buy ice bags at your local pharmacy, create your own, or use a bag of frozen vegetables.

Cucumber Slices

Frozen or refrigerated cucumber slices can help soothe toothaches and take away some of the pain caused by wisdom teeth. When your wisdom tooth hurts, simply take a cold cucumber slice and place it on the affected area.

Tea Bags

Tea bags are an effective remedy for swollen gums, thanks to the anti-inflammatory characteristics found in tannic acid. Place a cold tea bag directly over the affected area to reduce swelling and relieve pain.

Are There Potential Risks of Wisdom Teeth Removal?

While rare, there are some risks involved with wisdom tooth removal. It is important to contact your approved dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fever
  • Severe pain not relieved by prescribed pain medications
  • Swelling that increases after two or three days
  • A bad taste in your mouth that you cannot remove with a saltwater rinse
  • Pus in the extraction site
  • Continual numbness or loss of feeling
  • Blood or pus in nasal discharge

These symptoms may be a sign of an infection, nerve damage or other complications, so it is important to contact your dentist immediately for advice.

While unlikely, other long-term complications associated with wisdom teeth removal include:

  • Dry socket
  • Infection in the socket from bacteria or trapped food debris
  • Weakening of the lower jawbone
  • Nerve damage resulting in long-lasting loss of feeling in the lip, tongue, or chin
  • Potential risks or complications of anaesthesia, including a heart attack or stroke
  • Delayed healing, especially if you are a smoker

What Will Happen If I Don’t Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Problematic wisdom teeth development is extremely common, which is why some people choose to have them removed. Some people do not experience any issues with their wisdom teeth, while others can experience pain, discomfort and infection that can lead to more serious problems. It is recommended that you consult a approved dentist for a professional assessment to determine whether you require wisdom teeth removal or not.

If your approved dentist advises that you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, it is best to follow their expert advice before the situation worsens.

Are There Alternatives to Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The alternative to removing wisdom teeth is keeping them. While some people can keep their wisdom teeth, most people do not have that option as delaying removal can cause serious problems.

Impacted wisdom teeth can push the surrounding teeth, causing crowding and crooked teeth. An infected wisdom tooth can be a very painful experience for days, even after you have started antibiotics. It’s difficult to keep wisdom teeth completely free of plaque. A build-up of plaque can lead to cavities and even periodontal disease. If cysts form around impacted wisdom teeth, you may experience significant bone damage. Delaying removal can result in the roots of the wisdom tooth growing around a nerve in your jaw. As the nerves then become entwined in the roots of the wisdom teeth, they are more susceptible to damage during the extraction. This can leave you with a long-lasting loss of feeling in your mouth, tongue, and lips.

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