Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that you might get in your late teens or early twenties. These teeth are considered to be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned. But most often, they are misaligned and might require tooth removal.
One major dental milestone that happens between the ages of 17 and 21 is the appearance of your third molars. Historically, these teeth have been named wisdom teeth. This is because they come at a more mature age.
When they come out correctly, your healthy wisdom teeth can help you chew even better. It is normal to feel slight discomfort when your wisdom teeth start to appear. Chances are you might have pain, and it is advisable to see your dentist immediately.
Dental Problems Related to Wisdom Teeth
The major problem with wisdom teeth is the alignment issue. When these teeth are misaligned, they might position themselves horizontally. They might be angled toward or away from the second molars or could be angled inward or outward. Any of these conditions might lead to poor alignment of your wisdom teeth.
They might be crowded or might damage your adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or even your nerves.
Do you know that most of your jaws are done growing by the time you reach 18 years? But interestingly, most wisdom teeth emerge when you are around 19 years. Most problems caused by wisdom teeth are due to the fact that they do not have enough space to grow.
Your wisdom teeth also can be impacted. Meaning – they are enclosed within the soft tissue of your jawbone. In some scenarios, they might only partially break through or erupt through your gum, causing intolerable tooth pain.
Partial eruptions are very painful and might allow an opening for bacteria to enter the area around your teeth. Thus causing an infection, which could result in swelling, pain, jaw stiffness, and other problems.
If you have partially erupted teeth, you are more prone to tooth decay, cavity and gum disease. This is probably because their hard-to-reach areas make brushing and flossing extremely difficult.
Wisdom Teeth – Interesting Facts
1 Why the name
Wisdom teeth don’t actually make you smarter. They are so called because they usually come in when you are older, around 18 years plus. These teeth are located at the very back of your mouth. You get four such teeth as part of a complete set of 32 adult teeth.
2 Missing molars
Wisdom teeth are actually molars, your toughest, widest teeth that grind food for you. But many people don’t have all their wisdom teeth. They are commonly missing from most adult mouths.
3 Why Take Them Out
You are more likely to have issues with these molars. Each year, more than 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted or removed in the US. The top reason is impaction, meaning the tooth might not have enough room to come out from the gum.
4 Other Issues
Most of these teeth show signs of disease at some point. Some of these reasons include infection, cavities, lesions, damage to nearby teeth, and bone loss. But the most common reason being – not enough room to brush and floss around the tooth.
5 Simple extraction
If it has come out completely, your dentist might take out your tooth. Your dentist will numb the area. They will loosen the tooth with a tool called an elevator, then pull the tooth out with dental forceps. At the end the area is cleaned and packed with gauze to stop bleeding.
6 Surgical extraction
If your tooth has come out and is still below the gum line, you should get it removed. Chances are your dentists might refer you to an oral surgeon for this procedure. During the procedure, your surgeon will cut open the gum in that zone. This is done to remove the tooth bone to reach the root of your teeth.
How Do You Know If You Have Wisdom Teeth?
You should know the anatomy of teeth and the position of your wisdom teeth. When you visit your dentist, they may take an X-ray to examine the problem. The X-ray will be taken periodically to evaluate the exact position and alignment of your teeth. Your dentist might also refer you to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.
Your oral surgeon or dentist might recommend that your teeth be extracted even before problems develop. This is mostly done to avoid a more painful condition. It is also done to avoid more complicated extraction that might arise a few years later.
This is because tooth removal is easier in young people when the teeth roots are not yet fully developed, and the surrounding bones are less dense. In adults or older people, recovery and healing time always tend to be longer.
Why are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Do you know that your jaw has become smaller over time? There are probably several reasons for this progress in evolution. Scientists believe that as the human brain grew bigger in size over time, the jaw slowly got smaller to accommodate for space.
In addition, our diet and dental needs have also changed drastically. Smaller jaws lead to less space, and there is not enough room in your mouth for all the teeth. There are four wisdom teeth in total, two on top and two on the bottom. You can have a number of wisdom teeth from zero to all four.
Listed below are a few problems associated with these teeth. However, the American Dental Association suggests that removal will be necessary if any of these changes are apparent.
- crowded teeth
- crooked teeth
- teeth growing sideways
- increased tooth decay
- jaw pain
- cysts under the gums
Dentists will recommend that teenagers should evaluate for wisdom teeth removal surgery. This is because if you get your wisdom teeth removed at a younger age, the healing is faster. With age, your roots and bones would have fully formed, which could lead to complications.
Sometimes your dentist might recommend wisdom tooth removal before any orthodontic procedure. In some cases, your dentist might even recommend the removal of wisdom teeth as part of any other treatment.
For example, before giving braces, your dentist will ensure that these teeth don’t erupt later. They will give you clear instructions on how to prepare for surgery and what to do after surgery. Before making any decisions, your dentist will examine and take x-rays. Then he will discuss the best course of treatment.
Keeping Your Wisdom Teeth?
If you do not remove your wisdom teeth, you need to keep monitoring. Probably because the potential for developing problems later might still exist. With age, you are at a greater risk for other health problems, including potential problems with your wisdom teeth.
Be sure to brush and floss around your wisdom teeth and see your dentist periodically. If you visit your dentist regularly, it will help them in evaluating wisdom teeth and your overall dental health.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
The position and stage of development of your wisdom teeth determine how easy it is for your dentist to extract the teeth. Your dentist will be able to give you an idea of what to expect – during your pre-extraction exam.
If your wisdom tooth has fully erupted through your gum, then it can be extracted as easily. However, if your tooth is underneath the gums and is embedded in the jawbone, then it will require an incision into your gums. The tooth, as well as the portion of the bone that lies over the tooth, will be removed. Often, a tooth that is underneath will be extracted in stages.
What Happens During Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Before the procedure of extraction, the teeth and the surrounding tissue will be numbed using a local anesthetic. The ones used to numb a tooth prior to having a tooth cavity filled.
In addition, sedating medications is given depending on your condition. If nitrous oxide is used, you will be able to drive yourself home. If any other medication is given, you might need someone to drive you home from your clinic.
Self Care After Wisdom Teeth Removal
This would help you to get back to your normal activities the next day. To speed up the healing process and ease any pain, here are a few tips.
- Hold a cold pack against your jaw – to help with soreness and swelling.
- Try not to spit too often – as it will disturb the blood clot process. This will help to keep the area from bleeding.
- Facial swelling in the area where the tooth has been extracted might occur. To minimize swelling, place an ice pack on your face after every 30 minutes. Repeat as necessary.
- Drinking lots of water will help but stay away from hot beverages, alcohol, or sodas for about 24 hours.
You probably would not be able to fully open your mouth for a few days after extraction. During this period, stick to soft food that will not do much harm to the area. Your dentist will explain what all to follow and what to expect in your specific case.