Wisdom Teeth: What Are They and What Problems Do They Pose to You,

Wisdom teeth are known as “third molars,” and generally develop in a person between the ages of 17 and 25, although approximately 25% to 35% of the population never develops wisdom teeth. For those that do develop them, there are all sorts of possibilities and complications that can arise. Generally, individuals develop four of them, one in each corner of the mouth. If the four “third molars” grow in regularly alongside the other teeth, they can provide a healthy asset to the mouth. More often than not, however, wisdom teeth need to be extracted because of problems and complications.
Impaction of the Wisdom Teeth
The term “impaction” is used when discussing teeth in general that has failed to emerge into its expected position. The majority of wisdom teeth fall into this category, primarily because there isn’t enough room in your jaw to accommodate the teeth. There are a few different types of impaction that dentists regularly see, and they all come with their own unique set of problems for the person living with them.
Impaction can either be mesial, vertical or horizontal, or distal. A horizontal impaction occurs when the wisdom tooth grows in sideways, approximately ninety degrees in direction from the rest of the teeth. With a horizontal impaction, the wisdom tooth grows towards the rest of the teeth. A distal impaction occurs when the tooth grows in at approximately a forty-five degree angle, opposite the direction of the other teeth. Mesial impaction is the opposite of distal where the tooth is growing in towards the others. Finally, vertical impaction occurs when the tooth is growing upright.
The other major distinction of this type of impaction is whether it’s a “bony” impaction or “soft tissue” impaction. A soft tissue impaction is the term that indicates the tooth has penetrated the bone but not the gums. A bony impaction, on the other hand, is a term that describes teeth if they are still encased in the jaw’s bone.
Should You Remove Wisdom Teeth,
Aside from impaction, there are several other problems that can result if these teeth are left in your mouth. Even though the age-old justification for the removal of wisdom teeth is the misalignment or shifting of other teeth in your mouth if wisdom teeth are left to grow, some of these justifications are debatable and up for interpretation. It’s certainly the case that not everyone’s wisdom teeth need to be extracted. Indeed, they do not cause problems just by the very nature of developing.
However, there are some very real justifications for getting wisdom teeth removed if you are prompted so by your dentist. For example, pericoronitis is a condition in which an infection occurs in the tissues that surround the crown of a partially erupted wisdom tooth. Infection occurs primarily because of the presence of bacteria, which builds up because it’s nearly impossible to clean since the tooth is only partially erupted through the gums.
Similar situations can also result if your wisdom tooth is at an increased risk for tooth decay. Some wisdom teeth or positioned such that, like in the case of pericoronitis, they are difficult to clean and remove the plaque that forms. Like a regular tooth, the plaque that develops has a chance to turn into decay if undisturbed. For wisdom teeth, this can be a particular detrimental problem since a dental filling may not adequately solve the problem.
A couple other complications that arise as a result of wisdom teeth being left in the mouth include damage to neighboring teeth as well as cysts and tumors that can develop. These are both uncommon occurrences, but still are possible with any set of wisdom teeth given the right circumstances.
Both severe and chronic pain are also reasons for the removal of these teeth. Some people experience tremendous pain during the time when the tooth begins to erupt, which is perhaps one of the major reasons you might make an appointment with the dentist in the first place. Whether they are erupting or not, they all have the potential to cause pain, whether that pain is caused by the damage the tooth is doing to other teeth in your mouth, its malposition or for some other reason. In fact, a person with an impacted wisdom tooth may not only experience pain, but also bleeding and swelling, lower lip numbness or a persistent sinus opening.
Evaluating Wisdom Teeth
Before you have your wisdom teeth removed, and before the dentist makes any recommendations, he or she will take a full set of x-rays to confirm that they do need to be removed. The x-rays allows the dentist to see the type of impaction he is dealing with and determine the potential for your wisdom teeth to cause problems with your other teeth down the road. The fact of the matter is that x-rays are necessary because not all wisdom teeth can be seen just by looking in the mouth. For example, a horizontal, bony-impacted wisdom tooth cannot be seen since it’s below the gum line.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
If you’re having your wisdom teeth removed at the recommendation of your dentist, the surgical extraction procedure involves the application of either a local or general anesthetic. Depending on how difficult the wisdom tooth is to remove, the entire procedure should take no more than a typical dental office visit.
After the procedure, however, you’ll need to follow some basic follow-up care to prevent any further problems. To control bleeding after wisdom tooth extraction, you can chew on a piece of gauze or even a teabag. Swelling is also possible during the recovery period, which is normally five to seven days. During your post-operative appointment with the dentist or oral surgeon, he or she will remove any stitches if they were not self-dissolving.
Your dentist may recommend following a few simple guidelines for the days following the surgery. For example, you want to avoid rinsing your mouth for the first twenty-four hours after surgery. You also want to stick to a soft-food or liquid-only diet for the first twenty-four to thirty-six hours, gradually progressing to easy-to-chew and normal foods. When you do begin eating, you want to avoid chewing with the teeth opposite the side of the extraction site. The dentist will also recommend rinsing with warm salt water after all meals at least until your follow-up appointment.
Though wisdom teeth certainly don’t play a large role or serve as much purpose as the other teeth or molars in your mouth, they can certainly cause many problems. Perhaps the best attention for them comes from your dentist, who can continually x-ray your mouth and monitor what your wisdom teeth are doing. The dentist can make recommendations for extraction of your wisdom teeth before they ever start to cause problems in your mouth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *