Understanding The Wisdom Teeth And Why We Have Them
Our wisdom teeth usually emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. Several theories exist as to why we have them but the dominant explanation is that they serve the purpose of being backup teeth in the event that we lose a molar.
Because our diets, and dentistry, have evolved, most of us do not need wisdom teeth. And, because by this age, the size of the jaw has stabilised, many people may not have the space in their mouths to accommodate the extra or third molars.
What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are said to be impacted when they erupt at an angle, pushing into the gum or the adjacent teeth. If the wisdom teeth only emerge partially, a piece of gum will cover them up. It is also possible for wisdom teeth to over-erupt.
What Can Impacted Wisdom Teeth Cause?
Most dental practitioners will advocate extracting impacted wisdom teeth because they can cause a host of problems that are difficult and expensive to treat. Some of the problems that can be avoided through the extraction of wisdom teeth include
- Serious or recurrent infection
- Tooth decay of the wisdom tooth or adjacent molar
- Over erupted wisdom teeth can grow into and damage the cheek or jaw
- Awkward positioning that makes cleaning the teeth difficult
- The development of a cyst
- Crowding in the mouth that can lead to the development of ulcers
If your dentist anticipated that your wisdom teeth are going to present with overcrowding he or she may recommend removing them early, before bigger problems occur.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction: What To Expect
You can have your wisdom teeth extracted as they erupt and if they present with problems, one by one, or in one procedure. Your dentist will take some x-rays to check the position of your wisdom teeth before proceeding with the extraction.
You can also have a local or general anaesthetic, depending on the extent and complexity of the procedure. Your dental practitioner will advise you on the most comfortable way forward once you have had a consultation.
Once the area has been numbed, your dentist will cut through any overlapping gum tissue in order to access the tooth. The tooth will be gripped using special instruments and extracted. In the case of large or troublesome wisdom teeth, it may be necessary to cut them into smaller pieces.
Wisdom teeth on the lower jaw are considered to be more difficult to remove.
Once your wisdom teeth have been removed, you will be given a piece of gauze to bite down onto for a few minutes. This will help to slow the bleeding down. After a few hours, a blood clot will form at the site. You will be given special instructions on how to care for the wound, as well as advice on when and how to brush.
Are There Alternatives To Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
Improved Dental Hygiene
Good dental hygiene can help to improve infections that develop at the back of the mouth, but only really if the wisdom teeth are not impacted. They do need to be straight and accessible by a toothbrush in order to be properly cleaned. Sometimes a professional clean by your dentist can help to clear up an infection.
Your dentist may recommend a course of antibiotics to help clear the bacteria.
However, it’s important to note that if the issues are recurring your dentist will probably recommend their extraction.
What Complications Can Occur With Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom tooth extractions are performed frequently and generally do not cause complications, but sometimes it is possible to experience
- Bleeding, swelling and bruising at the site
- An infection at the extraction site
- A painful condition called dry socket, which can develop if the blood clot is dislodged
- If it isn’t possible to remove the whole tooth, the tooth roots may be retained
- Nerve damage during the extraction
Working with a skilled and experienced dental practitioner and planning your procedure well can help to reduce your chances of complications developing.
Why Early Removal Is A Good Idea?
Removing impacted wisdom teeth early on is a good idea because the roots are still forming. As you get older, the roots get stronger and make the tooth more difficult to extract.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a lot of avoidable problems and complications. To find out more about what impacted wisdom teeth can cause, or for an x-ray to see how your wisdom teeth are erupting please contact us for an appointment as soon as possible: (02) 9158 6211.