Wisdom tooth, also known as third molars, are typically the last teeth to erupt in the mouth, generally appearing between the late teens and early twenties. Not everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed, as these teeth can often function just like any other molar when they’re properly aligned and healthy.
However, there are several reasons why a dentist might recommend the extraction of wisdom teeth. Let’s explore these reasons, and remember, it’s always best to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon to make an informed decision.
Reasons for Wisdom Tooth Removal
This is the most common reason for wisdom tooth extraction. When there’s insufficient space in the jaw to accommodate these new teeth, they can become impacted or trapped in your jawbone or gums, causing discomfort, pain, and potential damage to surrounding teeth.
2. Partial Eruption:
If a wisdom tooth only partially erupts, the opening around the tooth can become a magnet for bacteria that cause infection, leading to pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness.
3. Incorrect Positioning:
Wisdom teeth that grow in at an awkward angle can cause issues. For example, if the tooth grows at an angle towards the next tooth (second molar), this can make it hard to floss, increasing the risk of decay and gum disease.
4. Cysts or Tumours:
If a wisdom tooth becomes impacted, it can lead to the formation of cysts or, in rare cases, tumours in the jawbone, leading to joint pain that requires treatment.
5. Sinus Issues:
Problems with wisdom teeth can lead to sinus pain, pressure, and congestion.
6. Damage to Other Teeth:
An extra set of molars can push your other teeth around, causing mouth pain and bite problems. In some cases, they can also lead to significant damage to adjacent teeth, including decay and bone loss.
7. Inflammation and Gum Disease:
The location of wisdom teeth can make them hard to clean. In turn, this can lead to inflammation of the gums, characterised by painful, swollen gum tissue. Over time, this can increase the risk of developing gum disease (periodontal disease) in that area.
The Process of Wisdom Tooth Removal
The wisdom tooth removal process varies significantly depending on the position of the tooth and root development. Generally, the procedure involves an incision in the gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone, removal of the bone that blocks access to the tooth root, division of the tooth into sections (if it’s easier to remove in pieces), removal of the tooth, cleaning of the site to remove any debris from the tooth or bone, and finally, stitching the wound closed to promote healing.
Wisdom Tooth Removal Aftercare and Recovery
After the procedure, you might experience some swelling and mild discomfort, which is part of the normal healing process. Cold compresses can help decrease the swelling, and medication can manage the pain. You’ll also be instructed to modify your diet following the procedure – soft foods and liquids are generally best.
While wisdom tooth don’t always need to be removed, it’s important to monitor them due to the potential issues they can cause. Regular dental visits will allow your dentist to monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth, using X-rays to evaluate their presence and alignment. Remember, early evaluation and treatment typically result in a superior outcome. It’s always best to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon to make the most informed decision about your oral health.
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