Wisdom teeth tend to be a topic of concern for a lot of people. The following information will help you better understand wisdom teeth and their potential impact on oral health.

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are third molars. They are the most posterior teeth in each quadrant of the mouth.  Typically, they erupt in late adolescence or early twenties (between ages of 16-21), but this range can vary. They are referred to as wisdom teeth as they come in at a more mature age.

Wisdom Teeth, Menace or Minor Inconvenience?

There is some confusion about just how problematic wisdom teeth can be and the truth is that it can vary wildly depending on each case.

For some people, they can be totally problem-free even to the point that they may not notice them coming in. For others, they may cause slight discomfort that typically resolves itself within a short period of time. This may include some tenderness, slight swelling, and occasionally mild headaches. If the problems don’t persist and the symptoms go away after a while, and the wisdom teeth come in correctly there should be no cause for concern. However, they must be cared for with extra attention. Proper oral hygiene is crucial in maintaining their health.  This can be somewhat challenging for a lot of people as they can be very difficult to reach when toothbrushing and flossing. If not cleaned properly they can trap lots of debris and bacteria around and potentially develop a cavity or gum disease around them.

Others are not as lucky and have wisdom teeth that do not come in correctly. Some wisdom teeth grow in crooked or misaligned. This can cause potential damage to other teeth, crowding, and even jaw or nerve damage. In these cases, it is best to have the wisdom teeth removed as soon as possible to avoid any long term negative effects.

For some people, the wisdom teeth are impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can not erupt into the mouth because of a lack of space or bad positioning. These can cause not only discomfort and pain but also damage to the adjacent tooth, the gums, or the jaw, and infection. Impacted wisdom teeth should always be assessed by your dentist and most likely will need to be extracted.

Why Extraction of Wisdom Teeth May be Needed?

Like we said earlier, wisdom teeth may need to be extracted if they pose a risk to your other teeth, oral health and/or overall health.

For a clearer rundown of the issues that typically come with wisdom teeth that merits extraction, here are the following:

  • Tooth damage – Wisdom teeth can actually damage other teeth, whether through the presence of bacterial infection or by simply pushing into the teeth themselves.
  • Tooth decay – Because wisdom teeth are harder to clean, they are likely to develop cavities. In some cases, it may be not possible to restore these teeth.
  • Infection – Even without the tooth decay angle, a bacterial infection in the gums, jaws, and mouth is an awful proposition. Not only will it lead to potential periodontal diseases, but it would also cause an incredible amount of discomfort for the patient.
  • Pain and swelling– Chronic pain and swelling can be quite debilitating and can lead to more severe problems. If experiencing this you should seek dental care as soon as possible.
  • Triggered Headaches -the pressure from wisdom teeth that are trapped under the gumline can often trigger headaches.
  • Cyst formation – Finally, there is a chance for cysts to form if the wisdom teeth are impacted. This can damage other health teat and the jawbone.

Regular dental visits will allow your dentist to examine and monitor the development and eruption of your wisdom teeth and will discuss the best course of treatment.  Remember to inform them of any symptoms you may be experiencing even if they are not overly bothersome.

How are Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

The removal process (extraction) is different in each case. It depends on many factors, including how developed the tooth is, if it has broken through the gum, its position and location.

In many cases, wisdom tooth extraction is just like any other routine tooth extraction.  The more complicated extractions may require a small surgery to expose and remove the tooth. In all cases, you will receive a local anesthetic that will numb the tooth and surrounding area.  Also, a mild form of sedation may be recommended for more invasive procedures.

After a thorough exam including necessary x-rays, the dentist will discuss your specific situation and explain what you can expect during the procedure.

How Long Will I Take to Heal?

The healing process is different from one person to another. Most people will not feel any discomfort within a few days and will be able to resume their regular activities.  The full healing process takes a few months. Your dentist will explain what you can expect during your healing period.  It is important to follow your dentist’s directions to avoid unnecessary complications.

Need to See a Dentist?

If you have any questions about wisdom teeth or would like the advice of a leading dental professional please contact our Kitchener dental offce.