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Wisdom Teeth – Wise to Remove? Pain, Costs & Symptoms.

by Dr.Sean


Wisdom Teeth – An Overview

Wisdom teeth or third molars are a common source of pain and discomfort for teenagers and young adults.

So what makes these teeth different to the rest?

The main reason for this is a lack of space at the back of the jaw to fit these large teeth. If the jaw size is large enough, wisdom teeth can come through and function as normal teeth.

Most of the time this is not the case. The wisdom teeth may:

a)  Partially erupt into the mouth,

b) Fully erupt on an odd angle to the rest of the teeth

c) Not erupt at all – often described as “impacted” wisdom teeth.


At what age are they a problem?

The usual age of eruption of these teeth is 17-21 years old. They are the last teeth to enter the mouth.


Do I need to have them extracted?

A number of factors influence the decision to extract wisdom teeth. It really depends on the individual situation.

Impacted wisdom teeth, or teeth that cannot fully erupt may present problems including infection, pericoronitis (inflammation) and difficulty maintaining hygiene in the area leading to dental decay or gum problems.

Initially, when the wisdom teeth push through the gum some mild discomfort is felt. This is not necessarily  an indication that your wisdom teeth require removal.

From around age 15 onwards, the dentist may arrange for an x-ray known as an OPG (orthopantogram) to assess the position of the wisdom teeth. This gives us the best indication as to whether they will be a problem or not.

For some lucky people, we discover missing wisdom teeth.


Some wisdom teeth questions we are commonly asked:

1. My wisdom teeth are not giving me any trouble, can I leave them?

The decision to remove wisdom teeth that are not symptomatic is dependent on the potential of the teeth to present problems down the track. We will provide an opinion as to the potential for the wisdom teeth to become problematic in the future- then it is up to you to decide.

If the wisdom teeth are partially erupted (not fully through), there is always some potential for infection to occur between the gum and tooth. It may be a ticking timebomb.

Often, your own immune system will take care of this. Patients will tell us that the wisdom teeth were “a little tender” for a few days then settled.

Sometimes it won’t resolve and antibiotics will be required.  Occasionally we see severe infections related to infected wisdom teeth that have arisen very quickly, necessitating a hospital visit and emergency removal.

If we recommend wisdom tooth removal, it is to avoid these risks and complications.


2. My wisdom teeth are sore, what is involved in getting them out?

Firstly, book in to see your dentist.

We will then arrange for a full mouth x-ray (OPG).

Some wisdom teeth can be more complicated to remove – as such we often refer patients to see an Oral Surgeon (specialists in wisdom teeth removal). Your dentist can arrange a referral to an Oral surgeon.

Treatment can be carried out to reduce symptoms prior to consulting with the oral surgeon. The dentist may clean thoroughly around the wisdom teeth to reduce bacteria levels. A chlorhexidine rinse may be advised, and sometimes a course of antibiotics and pain medication is needed.


3. Are there any risks involved?

As with any surgery, there are risks involved that require appropriate management.

Your dentist or Oral Surgeon will discuss these with you.

Your recovery form wisdom tooth surgery depends on many factors, but is often a lot shorter than you may think.


If your wisdom teeth are giving you trouble or have done in the past, we strongly recommend booking an appointment with the dentist. If you are currently in pain, call or email an appointment request and we will endeavour to fit you in on the day for assessment.

And if you have any questions, please feel free to give our Melbourne clinic a call on (03) 9596 2092 to discuss.

– Dr. Sean

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The Truth About Root Canals – Treatment, Cost & Pain

by Dr.Sean


Toothaches can be extremely debilitating. They can start as a result of:

  • An infection within the tooth
  • An infection involving the gum surrounding a tooth
  • An inflamed tooth that may be related to a large cavity or deep filling
  • Trauma to a tooth

And a number of other causes.

There are circumstances whereby a filling or other “simple” measure is not enough to resolve a toothache. Your dentist may suggest a Root Canal procedure.
A lot of patients dread the words “root canal”.

There is a lot of inaccurate information out there. We try to educate our patients with facts so that they can make an informed decision regarding their teeth.

So why do you need a root canal and what exactly IS a root canal?

Within a tooth lies nerves and blood vessels.

In effect – each tooth is a living structure like any body tissue.

When the tooth is irritated (eg. By a cavity, filling, night time grinding, etc) the nerve within the tooth (or root canal) is traumatised. Over time, the nerve can become super-irritated and be extremely sensitive to a glass of water or something warm. Sometimes these irritated teeth feel worse lying down at night.

Other times, the nerve may react by dying. The tooth may no longer react to cold or hot like it used to, but over time the ‘dead’ tooth will become infected, resulting in toothache.

At this stage we have two options:

  1. Root canal procedure
  2. Removal of the tooth.

The decision to complete a root canal vs to extract a tooth depends of several factors including position of the tooth in the mouth (ie. Front tooth vs back molar), affordability, function on the tooth etc.

You will need to discuss the pros/cons with your dentist.


What is a root canal treatment?

A root canal procedure involves the cleaning and disinfection of the middle part of the tooth (the ‘root canal’) following by filling of the space with material designed to seal the tooth and prevent infection.

The purpose of a root canal is to allow you to KEEP the tooth.

As mentioned, the alternative is removal of the tooth- and where required, replacement of the tooth.


What happens during the procedure?

Root canal treatments are generally done over 2-3 visits, with 30 minutes to over 1 hour being the general treatment time (depending on complexity).

Your dentist will numb the tooth (as per a regular filling).

A rubber dam is placed over the tooth – preventing any disinfectant or dental material entering your mouth, while keeping bacteria (from Saliva) out of the tooth.

The dentist carries out the procedure – cleaning, disinfecting, shaping and finally filling the root canal/s.

Front teeth have 1 root canal, molars often have 3/4 root canals (thus take longer and are generally more complex).


Will my tooth last now that its had a root canal?

Root canal procedures have good success rates. If we feel your tooth will not last a good amount of time we will generally not recommend a root canal, and suggest extraction and replacement.

We can control part of the success by completing high quality work and providing a strong and durable restoration of the tooth. Root canals can fail as a result of missed canals, leaking fillings, bacteria left behind in the root canals, cracks/fractures and many other reasons.

For long term success – meaning restoration of function, aesthetics, keeping the tooth – we will advise on the best type of restoration for the top part of the tooth.

For a molar – this may be a crown or ”cap”.

Your dentist will factor this in when providing a quote.


A couple of myths regarding root canal procedures

1. Root canal procedures are painful.

Root canal procedures are mostly done to relieve pain or prevent pain from arising. This may be due to an inflamed tooth, an infected tooth or trauma to a tooth.

The majority of patients will experience no pain during the procedures, and generally significant improvement in their symptoms after the procedure.

It is similar to having a regular filling done, whereby we use local anaesthetic to numb the tooth. As the procedure may be considered more “invasive”, your dentist will often administer a larger dose of anaesthetic, to minimise the chance of any discomfort.

The perception that root canal procedures are painful is likely to have stemmed from procedures and techniques used in the past. Thankfully, technology has changed and root canal procedures are nothing to be feared!

2. Root canal procedures are expensive.

When a dentist suggests you require a root canal procedure, it is generally advised in order the save the tooth – the only alternative is often extraction of the tooth and replacement.

Certainly, an extraction is generally cheaper than a root canal procedure – this is, if you plan to NOT replace the removed tooth.

If you want to replace the tooth – either a bridge, implant or denture is required which are generally more expensive options than a root canal.

You also have to weigh the benefit of being able to keep your own tooth vs having something ‘prosthetic’ in your mouth.

The price of a root canal depends on the number of canals in the tooth. For example, a front tooth often has only one root canal whereas a molar tooth may have four. Molars will be more expensive due to the amount of time required and additional instruments. For our root canal fees, see our PRICING page.

Finally, if a root canal is recommended and we feel it is beyond the capability of a general dentist to complete treatment, we can refer you to an ”endodontist” or root canal specialist.

If you have been told you need a root canal or think you may need one, request an appointment today.

– Dr. Sean

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Healthy Teeth for 2014

We would love you to set some goals for your oral health in 2014, and here is a starting point. Resolve to do the following and you should be on your way to a tick of approval from your dentist:

1. BRUSH – The obvious first. Brush for a minimum of 2 minutes, twice per day. To cover all tooth surfaces properly it will take 2 minutes, whether using an electric toothbrush or a soft regular brush.

2. FLOSS daily – (not just before you next dental appointment). If you don’t floss daily you will put yourself at risk of interproximal cavities. The contact points between teeth cannot be reached by brushing alone- hence the need to floss.

3. LIMIT your intake of sticky, sugary foods and carbonated beverages. Drink water regularly and limit snacking. You will significantly reduce your risk for dental caries (cavities).

4. VISIT us for regular check-ups. We recommend 6 monthly visits. Prevention is always the best option.

5. If you notice a problem, DO NOT procrastinate- come in to have it assessed. When dental problems are left they will usually lead to more complex issues, often requiring more invasive and costly procedures.

For a dental assessment, please contact us on 9596 2092 or request an appointment by selecting the “Book an Appointment” tab on this website.

See you soon!

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Welcome to Bay Dental Brighton

Welcome to Bay Dental Brighton. We pride ourselves on providing quality, caring dentistry for you and your family. Located on Bay Street in Brighton Victoria, we offer a full range of dental services including emergency, cosmetic and general dentistry- whilst maintaining a focus on prevention.

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