Wisdom teeth are the last to come in and can be a pain for most people. It causes problems because there is insufficient room for them in your mouth. They can become impacted (stuck), leading to pain, infection, and other dental problems. Sometimes, wisdom teeth may have to be removed even if they are not causing problems. If you are considering wisdom teeth removal, here is what you need to know!
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are medically known as the third molars. They are four adult teeth at the back of your mouth and often don’t have enough room to come in fully. They erupt during late adolescence or early adulthood, between ages 17 and 25. However, some individuals can get their wisdom teeth as late as age 35 or older. Wisdom teeth evenly distribute the bite pressure when eating by providing support and stability to the jawbone. They keep the airway open while sleeping by acting as space maintainers for other teeth.
However, wisdom teeth are no longer necessary these days. Due to the changes in diet and lifestyle, most people’s jaws are not large enough to accommodate these teeth. Even if they were to come in properly, they could be more of a problem than a benefit due to their propensity; they can easily become impacted or infected, and you may need to have them extracted or surgically removed by a dentist or oral surgeon.
What is an impacted tooth?
An impacted tooth is stuck in the jawbone or soft tissue and cannot erupt into the mouth, which is common in wisdom teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth cause pain or tenderness in the area around the wisdom tooth, swelling of the gums, difficulty opening your mouth, jaw stiffness or soreness on either side of the jaw, and bad breath or taste in your mouth. You may also experience discomfort when chewing food or brushing your teeth.
Proper dental care is essential in preventing impacted teeth from developing. Regular brushing and flossing can help avoid overcrowding of the mouth, which can lead to impaction. Additionally, regular visits to the dentist for check-ups will ensure that any issues with impacted teeth are addressed and treated properly. If left untreated, impacted teeth can cause serious problems down the line.
Why do impacted wisdom teeth need to be removed?
Wisdom teeth can cause several unpleasant problems, such as overcrowding, decay, infection, gum disease, cysts and complications with orthodontic treatments.
Overcrowding in the mouth
Wisdom teeth can pressure other teeth and cause them to shift position. This shifting can lead to crowded teeth, which can cause difficulty cleaning the back teeth.
Increased risk of decay and infection
Impacted wisdom teeth may fail to erupt properly and become stuck in the gums or jawbone. It can be painful and will cause discomfort. It creates an ideal environment for food and bacteria to accumulate around the tooth, leading to decay and infection.
When a tooth is impacted and unable to come through the gums, bacteria can accumulate around it, leading to an infection. Its infection can spread to the surrounding gums, leading to inflammation and irritation. If left untreated, this inflammation can cause periodontal (gum) disease.
Formation of cysts and tumours
When a wisdom tooth erupts, mouth bacteria can enter the surrounding soft tissue and bone structures, causing infection and inflammation. If left untreated, this infection can spread beyond the tooth and cause an accumulation of fluid in the area, eventually forming a cyst. Cysts can cause damage to the surrounding bone and tumours.
Complications with orthodontic treatments
Impacted wisdom teeth are troublesome to orthodontic treatments, such as braces. They can cause the other teeth in the mouth to shift and become misaligned. It can interfere with the treatment plan and cause overcrowding, making maneuvering the braces and wires around all teeth difficult.
Wisdom teeth removal is performed under local anesthesia, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) sedation, or general anesthesia. Your dentist will make a gum incision to access the underlying tooth and bone, then remove any overlying tissue using special instruments before extracting the tooth. The incision is closed with stitches or sealant.
Recovery time and aftercare depend on the extent of the wisdom tooth removal. Generally, you can expect bleeding, swelling, and pain for the first few days. You may also experience difficulty eating or drinking due to the tenderness in your mouth. It’s important to take any pain medications your dentist prescribes and follow their post-operative care instructions.
You should avoid drinking through straws and smoking during the healing period. Aftercare may also include rinsing with warm salt water several times a day or using an antibiotic mouthwash or ice pack to help reduce swelling and promote healing.
Are there any risks or complications associated with wisdom tooth removal?
Some risks and complications can occur with wisdom tooth removal. These include infection, damage to adjacent teeth or nerves, dry socket (when a blood clot fails to form in the extraction site), sinus issues, and injury to surrounding tissue. There is also a risk of grafting material being needed if the area is not healing properly. Furthermore, anesthesia carries an associated risk of side effects and complications.
Wisdom teeth removal is common among individuals who have impacted wisdom teeth or are at risk for developing complications. With proper planning and aftercare, a successful outcome can be achieved. Speak to your dentist about the risks, benefits, and potential complications associated with this procedure before making any decisions.