When you’re young, you don’t have them, and when you grow up, you get them and that’s when you realize you don’t want them. Wisdom teeth are something everyone gets, and more often than not, they become an issue and need to be removed. For any such procedures consult your dentist to get an idea of what needs doing.
But, for those who are curious, other than being pesky things that cause discomfort – what are wisdom teeth and why can they be such trouble?
What Are They?
A common mistake some might think is that wisdom teeth make you smarter. Let’s squash that myth straight away and tell you this is not true. But why are they called what they are? Well, simply because they come in as you get older, and with age comes wisdom.
Wisdom teeth for most people start to appear at around the ages of 17-21. They grow in at the back of the mouth. Most people will get two on top and two on the bottom. This brings the tooth-count up to 32 permanent teeth, which is the typical total for an adult.
Much like the other teeth at the back, wisdom teeth grow in as molars. They are there to help a person grind up food to make it easier to swallow. They are wider and stronger than your incisors or canines, which is why they are perfect for their job. Well, that is if they did their job properly and didn’t cause so many issues.
Fun Fact: Not everyone’s wisdom teeth come in! As human anatomy has evolved throughout history, there is a theory that because our diets have changed, we don’t need them anymore.
So, Why Are They Such a Problem?
There is a huge variety in the pain and discomfort that wisdom teeth can cause. Aside from the obvious growing pains when they come in, they can be a big issue without even breaking the surface.
Coming Through Wrong
There is a good chance that when your wisdom teeth come through, they will come through incorrectly. The human mouth doesn’t necessarily have room for all your teeth, so if they come through at an angle, sideways or perhaps only part of the way, it can have a big impact on your other teeth and cause a lot of pain.
It can also cause damage to other teeth surrounding it, which leads to further dental issues.
If a tooth gets stuck under the gum and doesn’t break the surface, this is what is known as a Tissue Impacted Tooth. If this happens, bacteria can build up, leading to infections.
Wisdom teeth can get infected simply because of where they come through. Being so far back in the mouth, it’s difficult to get them thoroughly cleaned. Impacted teeth also can lead to gaps between the wisdom tooth and the back molars, creating more spaces for bacteria to cultivate.
Just like any tooth, wisdom teeth can get cavities. Cavities are small holes that develop in the surface of the tooth. This can let bacteria into the more sensitive inner pulp of the tooth, which causes severe pain and discomfort.
Impacted teeth can cause cysts or even tumours to occur. If this happens, and it is left unnoticed or untreated, the tumour can start to reabsorb the bone in your jaw. This will loosen teeth surrounding the infected wisdom tooth. Bad bone loss can cause fractures and breakages in the jaw.
What Are My Options?
If you have any concerns or worries about your wisdom teeth, your best option is to consult your dentist. A dentist will give you the best advice out there.
However, as a quick overview, here are some of the options you have should you get an infection or problem with your wisdom teeth.
Just like treating an infection anywhere else in the body there are courses of medications – specifically antibiotics, which your dentist and doctor will prescribe to you.
They may also prescribe a painkiller such as aspirin or ibuprofen. You can take this before and after the infection to mitigate the pain any discomfort that you might be experiencing.
Pro Tip: Do NOT stop taking medications just because you feel better. See the full course through unless told otherwise by a healthcare professional.
If your wisdom or any other teeth have damage to them, you will need to see your dentist for dental restoration.
If you have a wisdom tooth that can be saved but needs a cavity or hole repaired, your dentist may put in a filling or cover the tooth with a crown.
As a preventative measure, your dentist may choose to file the tooth to prevent bacteria from getting trapped on any rough edges.
Getting the Tooth Removed
A common dental procedure is getting the teeth completely removed. Most often, the dentist will take an X-ray of your mouth at any routine appointment. If they see that the tooth will cause issues before it even surfaces, they may recommend removing it as a precaution.
The tooth will need removal if it:
- Causes a large amount of pain
- Coming in incorrectly
- Damages other teeth
- Partially erupts (partially out of the gum) and decays
Wisdom teeth removal may sound scary, but in reality, it is a common procedure. Most people recover from it just fine. A dentist will guide you through the whole process, and if needed, there are options out there to keep you calm along the way.
Pro Tip: Make sure you schedule your removal for a day when someone else can drive you home. You don’t want to be driving woozy from the anesthetic.
In the world of teeth and issues they cause, wisdom teeth are very high on the list of offenders. However, it’s very common for people to have them removed, so you have nothing at all to worry about.
Whether you believe you are fine or have the slightest feeling that something might be wrong, talk to a professional. They can give you all the advice and help you need to figure out what is going on with your wisdom teeth.