When you’re young, you don’t have them; when you grow up, you get them, and that’s when you realize you don’t want them. Wisdom teeth are something everyone gets; more often than not, they become an issue and need to be removed. For any such procedures, consult our dentist to understand what needs doing.
But, for those 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 immediately and tell you this is untrue. 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. It 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, making them 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 no longer need them.
So, Why Are They Such a Problem?
There is a wide variety of discomfort and pain that wisdom teeth can cause. Aside from the obvious pain from them growing in, they can impact your oral health without breaking through to the surface.
Coming Through Wrong
There is a high probability that when your wisdom teeth come through, they will grow incorrectly. The human mouth doesn’t necessarily have room for all your teeth, so if they grow at an angle or even sideways or only part of the way, it can significantly impact your surrounding 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 emerges to the surface, this is known as a Tissue Impacted Tooth. If this happens, bacteria can build up, causing infections.
Wisdom teeth can get infected simply because of where they come through. Being so far back in the mouth, thoroughly cleaning them is challenging. Impacted teeth can also cause 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 on the surface of the tooth. It 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. It 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 questions or concerns regarding wisdom teeth, contact your dentist in NW Calgary to request a consultation.
However, as a quick overview, here are some options for getting 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, that your dentist and doctor will prescribe.
They may also prescribe a painkiller such as aspirin or ibuprofen. You can take this before and after the infection to mitigate the pain or 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.
You must see your dentist for dental restoration if your wisdom or other teeth are damaged.
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 file the tooth to prevent bacteria from getting trapped on 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 it is a common procedure. Most people recover from it just fine. Our dentist in NW Calgary will guide you through the whole process, and if needed, there are options to keep you calm along the way.
Pro Tip: Schedule your removal when someone else can drive you home. You don’t want to be driving woozy from the anesthetic.
Wisdom teeth are very high on the offender’s list in the world of teeth and the issues they cause. However, it’s very common for people to have them removed, so you have nothing at all to worry about.
Talk to a professional whether you believe you are fine or feel something is wrong. They can give you all the advice and help you figure out what is happening with your wisdom teeth.