Most people have 28 adult teeth in their mouth – 14 on the upper jaw and 14 on the lower jaw. However, some people grow a set of third molars, known as wisdom teeth, which almost always need to be removed.
If you’re thinking about whether or not to have your wisdom teeth removed, or you’re just curious about what wisdom teeth are and what they do, you’re in the right place.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about wisdom teeth – from what they are to when they should be removed. We’ll also answer some of the most common questions people have about wisdom teeth. So keep reading to learn more!
What Is A Wisdom Tooth?
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars. Most people get them in their late teens or early twenties. They get their name from the fact that they usually come in later years when you are older and wiser. However, not everyone gets them. Some people never grow their wisdom teeth at all, and others have impacted wisdom teeth.
Though wisdom teeth don’t usually erupt until our late teens or early twenties, they actually start developing much earlier. By the time we’re born, we have all at least twenty eight permanent teeth already formed inside our gums, others have thirty-two including the wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth start growing around age 6, but they don’t usually start breaking through the gum line until the later years or “the age of wisdom.”
How Do You Know When There’s A Problem With Your Wisdom Teeth?
While some people never have any problems with their wisdom teeth, others may find that they crowd or damage adjacent teeth, resulting in pain and swelling.
In some cases, wisdom teeth may even become impacted, meaning that they grow at an angle and become trapped beneath the gum line. If wisdom teeth are causing problems, your dentist may recommend having them removed.
Wisdom teeth that are only partially erupted are particularly susceptible to infection, as food particles and bacteria can become trapped beneath the gum line. They are also situated at the far back of your mouth, making it harder for the toothbrush to reach it when brushing. As a result, wisdom teeth are often removed even if they are not causing any immediate problems as a precautionary measure.
The only definitive diagnostic tool your dentist will use to determine if you have impacted wisdom teeth is through a radiographic x-ray of your teeth. But, if you’re wondering how to tell if you have an impacted wisdom tooth, look out for these signs and symptoms:
- Pain in the back of your mouth or jaw
- Gum and facial swelling
- Crowding or misalignment of your teeth
- Foul taste in the mouth or bad breath
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide
- Pain when chewing or biting down
Wisdom tooth extraction is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis. After all, it is a major surgical procedure. If you’re not sure what to do about your wisdom teeth, it’s best to err on the side of caution and consult a dental professional.
When Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Not Needed?
For many people, the removal of wisdom teeth is a rite of passage. Once wisdom teeth start to come in, it’s often only a matter of time before they need to be removed. However, there are some cases where wisdom tooth removal may not be necessary.
If the wisdom teeth are fully erupted and positioned correctly, they may not need to be removed. Additionally, if the wisdom teeth are not causing any problems or crowding, and the patient is able to clean them properly, removal is not necessary..
Why Dentists May Recommend Having A Wisdom Tooth Removed
The decision to remove wisdom teeth is usually based on a combination of factors, including the position of the teeth, the surrounding teeth’s health, and the patient’s overall health. A dentist would recommend wisdom tooth removal if it causes a number of issues, such as:
Another reason wisdom teeth may need to be removed is crowding. As wisdom teeth come in, they can crowd existing teeth and disrupt the alignment of the bite. Removing wisdom teeth can help prevent these problems and maintain optimal oral health.
Wisdom teeth that are not removed are also more difficult to clean properly, which increases the risk of cavities and periodontal disease.
Decaying of Nearby Teeth
While wisdom teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth, they are often mispositioned and can cause problems for the nearby teeth.
When wisdom teeth come in at an angle, they can push on the neighbouring teeth and cause them to shift out of alignment. This can lead to decay because it is difficult to clean the wisdom teeth and nearby teeth properly.
In addition, erupting wisdom teeth can trap bits of food and bacteria beneath the gum line, which can also cause tooth decay and bad breath.
One common problem wisdom teeth can cause is impaction, which occurs when the tooth fails to erupt through the gum line or erupts only partially. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause tooth pain, infection, and damage to adjacent teeth. They can also lead to cysts or tumours.
Wisdom teeth that are not removed may need to be extracted later in life, which can be a more complicated and expensive procedure.
Inflamed gums are one reason why dentists recommend removing wisdom teeth. When the gum tissue around a wisdom tooth gets irritated, it can swell and become red and tender. This can be very painful. Additionally, inflamed gums are more prone to infection. If an infected wisdom tooth is not removed, the infection could spread to other teeth or even to the jaw bone.
Pain or Infection
Wisdom teeth can be quite painful when they first come in. They may cause swelling, inflammation, and bruising and make eating or speaking difficult.
Additionally, wisdom teeth are hard to clean, making them prone to bacterial infections that lead to serious health problems if left untreated. In these cases, dentists often recommend removal.treat
Are There Any Risks Of NOT Having Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?
While wisdom teeth may not always need to be removed, there are some potential risks of leaving them in. These include:
If wisdom teeth are allowed to grow in without being removed, they can cause the other teeth to shift out of alignment. This can lead to a misaligned bite.
When your wisdom teeth erupt at a bad angle, or there is not enough room in your mouth, your existing teeth can shift. Eventually, this can turn a beautiful, straight smile into one with unevenly spaced or crooked teeth.
A cyst can form around a tooth’s crown if it is caught under the gum line and cannot fully emerge. A cyst can infect and damage the tooth and the surrounding bone.
A wisdom tooth infection may spread throughout the body and affect organ systems and overall health. People with weakened immune systems are at risk of developing a wisdom tooth infection.
Jaw or Facial Pain
When wisdom teeth begin to emerge and shift, they can cause pressure and pain in your ear, jar, or side of your face. This can also indicate a gum infection.
Behind your second set of molars is a flap of gum tissue. The wisdom teeth must break through this flap to fully emerge. The gum flap can become inflamed and infected during the eruption of a tooth, which can result in pain and other problems.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth removal is usually an outpatient procedure, so you won’t have to stay in the hospital overnight. Here’s what happens:
- Local anesthesia will usually be used to numb the area. However, if you are anxious or scared, sedation options are also available.
- The dentist makes an incision in the gum tissue to expose the wisdom tooth. You’ll feel a gentle pressure at this point.
- The tooth is removed in one piece or broken into smaller pieces, and tooth fragments are removed.
- The extraction site is cleaned and closed with sutures.
- The patient is asked to bite down on some damp medicated gauze to help stop the bleeding.
The entire procedure usually takes about an hour.
What Possible Problems Can Occur After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Wisdom teeth removal is typically a safe and straightforward procedure. However, just like any other dental procedure, there are risks involved. Some possible complications of wisdom tooth removal include:
Damage To Surrounding Teeth
Wisdom teeth removal can also cause damage to surrounding teeth. This is because wisdom teeth are often located close to other teeth, and the removal process can damage these nearby teeth.
In addition, wisdom teeth removal can cause inflammation and swelling in the surrounding tissues, which can again cause teeth and bone damage.
After wisdom teeth removal, a dry socket is a possible problem. It can occur when the blood clot that forms in the socket after surgery is either lost or doesn’t form properly. If this happens, you may experience intense pain, and the exposed bone in the tooth socket can become infected.
The signs of dry socket are pain that starts a few days after surgery and gets worse instead of better, an empty-looking socket where the tooth was removed, and bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Nerve damage is a possible complication of any dental surgery, but it is more likely to occur with wisdom teeth removal because of the proximity of the wisdom teeth to the alveolar nerve in the jaw.
If nerve damage does occur after wisdom tooth extraction, it can result in numbness, tingling, or pain in the lips, chin, or tongue. In rare cases, nerve damage can cause paralysis of the facial muscles.
Fortunately, most cases of nerve damage after wisdom teeth removal are temporary and resolved within a few months.
Most people experience little pain after the surgery, but it can be relieved by over-the-counter pain medication. Your dentist will also give you wisdom teeth aftercare instructions.
However, severe and long lasting pain – either tooth, gum, or jaw pain – warrants a trip to the dentist.
Recovery from wisdom teeth removal usually takes a few days to a week. The healing process varies from person to person.
After wisdom teeth surgery, you’ll need to eat soft food and avoid spicy, chewy, and crumbly foods while your gums heal. You’ll also have to regulate your normal activities. Strenuous activity needs to be avoided. Additionally, warm water mixed with a teaspoon of salt used as a mouth rinse can help.
What Are The Benefits of Wisdom Tooth Removal?
It’s easy to understand why some people are wary about having their wisdom teeth removed. The thought of undergoing a major oral surgery can be scary. However, wisdom tooth removal has several benefits that make it worth considering.
- Prevent Overcrowding and Misalignment: Wisdom teeth removal can help prevent overcrowding and misalignment by creating more space in the mouth.
- Reduced Risk of Gum Disease: It reduces the risk of infection and gum disease by making it easier to keep the back of the mouth clean.
- Improved Oral Health: Wisdom tooth removal can also improve oral health by reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Remember to always practice good oral hygiene.
Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, but it’s important to consult your dentist to see if they need to be removed. If you’re experiencing pain, crowding, misalignment, or infection, then wisdom teeth removal may be the best option for you.
At Maylands Dental Centre, we offer a variety of dental treatments including wisdom teeth removal that can help improve your oral health. We have online booking and call options available, so you can easily schedule a consultation appointment at a time that works for you. Visit our website or call us at (08) 9370 5464 today!