Wisdom teeth are the third (and the last) molars which appear at the back of your mouth, typically between the ages of 17 – 21 years. While few of the people may not have any issues with them coming through, many others find them problematic.
Why are they called Wisdom Teeth?
In dental terminology these teeth are called third molars. Due to the age when they erupt (late teenage or just after that) it’s the time when people are getting wise (if they really are 😊). Hence because of the age when they erupt, they are also called wisdom teeth.
Some people get no or only one or two wisdom teeth while others get all 4 of them. You may experience problems with your wisdom teeth if any of the following occur:
- Your wisdom teeth erupt from the gums partially due to the lack of space in your mouth. This causes a flap of gum tissue to develop over the teeth, which may trap food and contribute to a gum infection. This is the most common issue that happens with erupting wisdom teeth.
- Your jaw does not have enough room to accommodate your wisdom teeth. This causes the teeth to get stuck in your jaw without being able to break through the gums. Such teeth are referred to as impacted teeth.
- There is often a pocket between the wisdom tooth and the tooth just in front which is difficult to keep clean. The food keeps getting deposited there and many times even our normal cleaning methods can’t keep it clean. This may lead to decay starting in the wisdom tooth, or worse, in the molar in front leading to serious problems.
- The teeth grow slanted or face the wrong direction.
- They are too far at the back. This makes it difficult to clean around them and they get cavities.
- Many orthodontists believe that the pressure from the eruption of the developing wisdom teeth can cause the front teeth to become overcrowded,
and hence removal of wisdom teeth is often recommended before or immediately after Invisalign or braces treatment.
Causes of wisdom teeth pain and problems.
To understand why wisdom teeth cause problems during eruption we need to understand a bit of history. Several thousand years ago, our predecessors used to have as many as 44 teeth. Before humans cooked their food, they survived mostly on natural plants, seeds and nuts. In those times having these many teeth in larger jaws proved useful because of the need for extra chewing. As our diets changed to become softer with minimal need of chewing, our jaws became smaller. With the most refined diets of all times, most people now have minimal room for the wisdom teeth to come through and hence they get impacted or come out at abnormal angles causing all the problems.
Although they’re called “wisdom” teeth, most people would much rather not have them. This is because of the myriad of issues they cause and increase your risk to, even if you have the best oral health. When there’s a risk of problems, dentists may recommend extraction of your wisdom teeth. Some risks of keeping your wisdom teeth include
- repeated localised infection,
- contribution to gum disease
- bad breath
- tooth decay
Most of these problems can be treated, in the short term, using antiseptic mouthwashes, antibiotics and good oral hygiene. Some problems are more serious than others and require further treatment, which often includes removing the entire wisdom tooth as well. Further advice will be provided to you by your dentist on what treatment option suits you best following a complete oral examination.
How is an impacted wisdom tooth diagnosed?
Your Shorncliffe dentist can tell if your wisdom teeth are impacted by examining your teeth and taking a simple full mouth X-ray. The X-ray shows the position and angulation at which the wisdom teeth lie. You can discuss with your dentist the treatment options and benefits and risks of the same.
Wisdom teeth – Treatment
If your jaws do not have sufficient room to accommodate wisdom teeth, you may need to get them taken out. After the full mouth x-ray, it can be seen how easy or difficult it is taking those wisdom teeth out.
You may get your wisdom tooth/teeth out in the dental chair by your Sandgate Bayside Dentist. This usually involves giving you local anaesthetic and a minor surgery. Alternatively, you may opt to have your wisdom teeth taken out in a hospital by a surgeon. This is usually a day surgery. You may take a day or two off after the procedure.
Recovering from wisdom tooth surgery
Most people can get back to their normal activities next day to a few days after the surgery. Depending upon the complexity of the surgery it may take up to few weeks for your mouth to completely heal. You may also experience limitation in your mouth opening so you’ll need to eat soft foods till the recovery. You may experience some pain, bleeding and swelling. Cold compresses and pain killers are helpful. A rare complication is an occurrence of dry socket. This happens when the blood clot that is supposed to form after the extraction gets dislodged due to some reason causing the bone to be exposed.
So, if you or any of your family member or a friend has any issues or questions regarding their wisdom teeth, contact your local Shorncliffe dentist at Sandgate Bayside Dental to book an appointment on 3269 2443 or Book Online.