Wisdom teeth are located at the very back of your mouth and usually people have four wisdom teeth in total – two on the top jaw and two on the bottom. They don’t begin to form until the age of seven and, unlike other adult teeth which form and grow during your childhood, wisdom teeth typically emerge at the age of 18 and usually no later than the age of 30.
They help us chew rough and hard foods, but as our diets have changed so much during the past years, it isn’t absolutely necessary for you to keep your wisdom teeth, especially if they are causing issues. We already have two sets of molars that already help us chew tough food.
Issues with wisdom teeth arise when there isn’t enough space in your jaw for the tooth to fully grow or the tooth is stuck in the wrong position and is impacted by another tooth. This is quite common and is the main reason why pain and discomfort occur when wisdom teeth erupt.
It may be that you don’t have to remove your wisdom teeth! Sometimes the pain is just normal from eruption but sometimes it could be a sign of a bigger issue.
Issues due to impacted wisdom teeth
When a wisdom tooth can’t fully emerge to the surface and has only partially erupted or remains hidden in the gums, it is referred to as an impacted wisdom tooth.
These teeth will most likely affect the surrounding teeth in your mouth as well and cause problems. A tooth that has emerged at the wrong angle can directly impact the health of other teeth and will push them out of place. They could cause overcrowding and over time this will affect your entire jawline.
Impacted wisdom teeth could also cause the tooth next to the impacted wisdom tooth to become vulnerable to problems like tooth decay or infection. It is crucial that you seek dental advice if you have any tooth ache at all, as this type of instance could mean it’s not only just the one tooth that’s in trouble.
Your dentist will recommend having the wisdom tooth pulled even if it isn’t causing issues. This is because decay is likely to set in in these hard-to-reach spots created by the odd positioning of the new wisdom tooth.
Your dentist is likely to request information on whether you have had your wisdom teeth out as an adult. If you haven’t, it’s regular practice to take a full mouth x-ray to check the status of your wisdom teeth
Issues related to wisdom teeth
Wisdom tooth may bring about a range of complications as they grow and if left untreated.
When they grow, they can cause problems such as:
- Soreness in your jaw or swollen gums
- Pain in sinuses
- Pain or discomfort while chewing food
If left untreated they could cause further complications like:
- Chronic pain
- Tooth decay
- Damage to surrounding teeth
- Recurring infections
- Cysts and tumours and even
- Gum disease
Self-treating wisdom tooth pain
Wisdom tooth pain is inevitable for most people and the level of pain you experience will vary depending on your individual scenario. If you are suffering from any pain at all, it’s vital that you visit your dentist for an examination.
We have a few at-home treatments you can make use of while you wait for your new wisdom teeth to settle in or while you wait for your next dentist visit to have your wisdom teeth extracted:
1. Over-the-counter medication for pain
2. Rinse with saltwater solution
3. Applying a cold compress
Wisdom teeth extraction procedure
During your initial visit to the dentist, they will request for you to take a full mouth x-ray, also known as an OPG, to view all your wisdom teeth and surrounding areas accurately before giving advice.
There are several possible options your dentist could suggest to you depending on your individual case.
To learn more about the full wisdom tooth removal procedures available, see below.
Watch Dr. Andrew’s video where he answers your questions about wisdom teeth below.
To learn more about aftercare once you have had your wisdom tooth (or teeth) extracted and more information in detail regarding treatment options, click on the link below to read the full article.