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Wisdom Teeth 101: Symptoms and Treatment

Wisdom teeth: symptoms and treatment

Wisdom teeth or third molars are the last set of molars that we develop from the age of 17 to 25 years old. Generally, we have four wisdom teeth located on each end of our upper and lower teeth. Some people develop four wisdom teeth, but others only have three or less.

Why do we call them wisdom teeth?

These third molars are called “wisdom teeth” because they develop in the age when most people become wiser or become a young adult. It’s somehow an indication that when you have your wisdom teeth, you’ve finally started your adulthood phase.

The purpose of our wisdom teeth

Today, our wisdom teeth are not as significant as they were to our ancestors. Scientists found that some of our ancestors have wider jaws and more teeth to handle their pre-historic way of eating. They needed strong wisdom teeth to bite and chew raw meat and rough fibers of vegetables. Our wisdom teeth used to serve as the strongest molars that can handle a strong bite force.

Now that we have refined and softer food options, wisdom teeth lost its purpose. Thus, removing them doesn’t make a lot of difference in the way we eat and speak. You’re lucky if your wisdom teeth came out just right and did not cause any problems.

For others, having impacted wisdom teeth became a total nightmare due to the pain and other complications associated with it.

impacted wisdom teeth

What is an impacted wisdom tooth?

An impacted tooth is a disorder that happens when the wisdom tooth gets stuck in the gums and can’t erupt properly. A partially impacted tooth is formed when only half of the wisdom tooth was able to break through the gums. Here are some of the reasons why it happens:

  1. The wisdom tooth develops towards the wrong angle.
  2. The adjacent tooth prevents it from surfacing to the gums.
  3. The size of the jaw can’t accommodate new teeth.

When patients reach 17 years old and up, most dentists recommend keeping their wisdom teeth in check with the help of a dental x-ray and panoramic radiograph to detect the development of wisdom teeth.

Possible complications caused by an impacted tooth

You can keep an impacted tooth if it doesn’t cause any problems. However,  some cases of full and partially impacted teeth can lead to the following dental concerns:

  • Stuck food particles and bacteria causing tooth decay and infection
  • Overcrowding resulting in crooked teeth
  • Increases your chances of having cysts or tumors
  • Chronic discomfort or pain
  • Damage to neighboring teeth

Symptoms that your wisdom teeth are developing

You will see the tip of your new molar if it erupts without any problem. For the wisdom teeth that can’t make it through the gums, you’ll feel the following symptoms:

  • Increasing pain in the back of the mouth or behind molars
  • Tenderness or swelling around the site
  • Severe pain and discomfort
  • Infection
  • Bad breath
  • After-taste while chewing food

Wisdom teeth removal: Simple extraction or surgery

Problematic or not, wisdom teeth are usually encouraged to be removed to prevent future complications. The approach in removing them may depend on the complexity of your case.

Simple extraction: You can have a simple extraction performed by your dentist if the wisdom teeth are visible and erupted without any problems.

Oral surgery: Wisdom teeth that are broken or impacted require a more thorough surgery performed by your dentist or an oral surgeon.

Frequently asked questions

1. Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?

You can keep your wisdom teeth if they are not causing any problems. However, it is encouraged by most dentists to have it removed to keep future complications at bay.

2. Is it always painful when wisdom teeth start to develop?

As the wisdom tooth tries to erupt, the pressure on the gums and to the adjacent teeth may cause pain and tenderness at the back of your jaw. However, if the pain starts to spread, there might be a budding complication like an infection.

 3. What happens if I keep my wisdom teeth?

Nothing will happen to you for keeping your wisdom as long as they erupt properly and you maintain good oral hygiene. Otherwise, it may cause dental problems such as crooked teeth, tooth decay, and infection.

4. Can my wisdom teeth erupt after the age of 25?

Yes. In some cases, wisdom teeth come in late for people who are in their mid-40s up to old age. A Luxemburg resident became the Guinness Book record holder for the oldest person to grow her wisdom teeth at the age of 92.

5. When should I have my wisdom teeth checked?

Either you experience pain or not, it’s best to visit the dentist when you’ve reached the age of 17 to observe if there is already a growing wisdom tooth.

Routine dental checkups should be a priority not only for wisdom teeth concerns but also for the prevention of other dental problems.

Wisdom teeth extraction at Dr. Roy Jennings Dentistry

If you’re feeling any discomfort, pain, or suspecting a wisdom tooth coming in, we can help you. Dr. Roy Jennings Dentistry in Monroe provides simple and surgical extractions for wisdom teeth and other restorative treatments.

Don’t ignore the discomfort and address the pain properly by going to the dentist. We can help you manage the pain of growing wisdom teeth by scheduling an appointment or by contacting us.

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