Wisdom Teeth – The Unnecessary Evil
Wisdom Teeth -
Name given to the third molars, are the furtherest away in the dental arch and thus these are the last ones to pop-out in the oral cavity. Name “Wisdom” is given because the age of eruption coincides with the beginning of adulthood. Normal dentition means set of 32 teeth, only if all the 4 wisdom teeth erupt in a proper manner but it hardly does. Most people have four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. Very rare percentage of population has all the 32 teeth erupted which are functional and aligned properly.
Age of eruption:
They break through the gum tissue at the age of 17-25 but there is no such specific rule. There are people whose age is 45 years and more, but with no third molar or partially erupted tooth.
The cause for wisdom teeth is also called as house of problems because due to lack of space, they do not get sufficient room to sit. For these to erupt, the growth at the back of jaws must be sufficient so that wisdom teeth can fit there. Thus, due to inadequate growth of jaws wisdom teeth remain impacted or semi impacted or partially erupted/partially impacted.
Impacted: when the eruption of wisdom teeth is not completed within limited time, teeth are completely submerged under gum.
Semi Impacted: when they peep out of the gums only partially.
According to my experience, after the dental cavity which is the most common dental problem, the second position goes to wisdom tooth. The reason behind it is the positioning of the tooth and its eruption pattern. Thus, giving rise to many unwanted and unthinkable problems.
Diagnosis : A dentist examines the area of wisdom tooth. If necessary, he or she takes X-rays. X-rays can show where your wisdom teeth are and if they are impacted.
Moderate to severe pain when opening mouth or chewing or biting. Pain that may extend up to the ear.
Jaw ache or head ache.
Swelling of the jaw.
Difficulty in swallowing.
Redness over the area of wisdom tooth.
Bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth.
Pain can occur for several days and then disappear. It can come back weeks or months later.
Your initial visit to a dentist would include an examination of your mouth and X-rays to determine the position of the wisdom teeth, their condition and the status of the adjacent teeth and bone.
The ultimate treatment recommended for wisdom teeth is EXTRACTION (Removal of the tooth).
Due to its incomplete eruption, the blanket of gums grow over it, thus raising an alarm for the upcoming infection due to accumulation of food debris.
Due to malposition, it allows the formation of cavity because the area is difficult to clean.
It is blamed for causing minor tooth movement by exerting pressure on the tooth beside it.
Wisdom tooth is recommended to extract if it does not come out or to solve the problems already existing or to stave off the development of a new problem.
Now the common and obvious question is “Do all wisdom tooth need to be extracted ?”
To answer to this is NO.
As a dentist I would always recommend to talk to your dentist or an oral surgeon about the position and health of your wisdom teeth and what's the best for your situation.
Surgery and after it:
Yes, it does need a small surgery which takes few days of time to heal with little discomfort and with medications and proper care, is not a big issue. The single tooth which is symptomatic or problematic must be extracted rather than delaying it because of the fear of surgical procedure. And the other tooth which is presently asymptomatic must be kept under observation and watchful monitoring of half yearly check-up and radiographic assessment because problem associated with this starts in no time and stands out to be a major problem then.
After surgery you may not be able to open your mouth as wide as usual for a few days. You will be advised to maintain good oral hygiene and also to keep to a soft diet for a few days following surgery.
Brushing twice, giving the wisdom tooth area a primary concern and using a kids brush for better cleaning.
Everyday warm water and salt rinses.
If needed, proper medications after consulting the dental surgeon.
“WISDOM TOOTH” - it is hard to predict when will it come out and if so then how. It is also called as “TIME BOMB” - because we do not really know when will it explode.