Wisdom teeth are the last tooth to erupt in the oral cavity. Read the article below to know about wisdom teeth and the common problems associated with them.
Knowing the difference between a normal and problematic situation is necessary to see if the wisdom tooth must be saved or removed. Also, basic knowledge about the current trend of common problems will help you be relaxed and rule out unnecessary confusion. So, go ahead and update yourself on wisdom teeth.
Third molars, also called wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. They are placed most posteriorly, and there are four wisdom teeth in total, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw (one in each quadrant). There are no predecessors for molars in your milk teeth sequence. So, no permanent molar will be replaced once lost.
The symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth are:
Red or swollen gums.
Difficulty opening your mouth.
Tender or bleeding gums.
Swelling around the jaw.
An unpleasant taste in your mouth.
It has an average age range of 17 to 21 years but can extend to 23 or more years.
When your wisdom teeth are in a normal position, like other teeth, just check if you have any cavity or gum swelling there. If yes, visit the dentist and get the treatment done. Maintain your oral hygiene properly, and there, you save your teeth.
Now comes the situation that it is not fully erupted or improperly placed, and you are already within that age range or beyond. There comes the culprit. Let us get into it in detail.
If your wisdom teeth are not there or partially erupted, it is called an impaction. Now, the chances are that it is missing because it has not developed at all.
Wisdom teeth or third molar are the most commonly impacted teeth in the oral cavity in humans. The impacted wisdom teeth can lead to pathology in 12% of cases. Only less than 2% of adults with age 65 years or older will maintain teeth without cavities or periodontal disease, and only 13% will have wisdom teeth without impaction and cavities or periodontal disease.
Impacted wisdom teeth can leave the gums vulnerable, as the surface breaks and the teeth are not entirely through. Food and bacteria can get trapped in the gums and lead to several issues, including:
For your satisfaction, get an OPG (orthopantomogram) x-ray done to check for the teeth' presence, position, and condition. Then further management can be decided upon. Prevention is better than cure. Consult a dentist with your OPG for guidance as to find whether there is any future complication associated with it or not.
In case you have pain, wisdom teeth cause severe discomfort while erupting. Sometimes, the inflammation of gums covering the tooth or any other pathology associated with it might cause pain and sometimes swelling. It can reduce your mouth opening as well. Consult your dentist with an OPG, and they will prescribe you analgesics, antibiotics, and other medicines if required for symptomatic relief and explain to you the treatment.
Do not go for over-the-counter medicines on your own; instead, consult the dentist. It is necessary to give proper treatment based on the condition and medical history to prevent drug resistance or other complications. Treatment for such cases is the removal of the tooth. I will explain the reason further down into the article.
Now, let us discuss about the improper position and condition of the teeth. Wisdom teeth can sometimes be tilted towards the cheek and cause frequent ulcers or can cause severe cavities or infection.
What can be done about this? If the cavity is mild, you can get it filled if the position and eruption are proper and complete. For mild gum inflammation, cleaning or scaling can be done. Sometimes, the tooth is covered by thick gum or flap, which might stop the potential eruption of the teeth, and you can have frequent inflammation of that (pericoronitis). It is better to get it removed. Sometimes, removing or cutting that flap may help in the eruption of teeth. Again, all this will be decided by your dentist.
It is often advised to be removed because these wisdom teeth do not help in chewing function as evolution has led to decreased function of these and more impaction cases. Maintaining these teeth is also difficult in most cases as they are placed at the very back, and maintaining them becomes difficult. This leads to frequent problems. So, keeping all this in mind, it is better to get it removed. It can require either surgical removal or normal extraction based on its position, and both procedures will be explained to you by your dentist. Mostly, they are done under local anesthesia. General anesthesia is preferred if all four wisdom teeth have to be removed in a single appointment.
Kindly follow all the instructions properly after extraction or surgical removal, given by your dentist, like mouth opening exercises, gargling, suture removal, food intake, etc., to avoid complications like a dry socket or reduced mouth opening. Give the dentist your complete medical and dental history.
The few home remedies used to soothe painful wisdom teeth are:
Over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen, etc.
Onion for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
When in doubt, consult your dentist. Gaining information from the internet is good but do not confirm or assume anything based on what you read. For further in-depth details and information, only a dentist can help you. Until then, keep chewing and keep smiling.
Last reviewed at:
13 Dec 2021 - 4 min read
Query: Hello doctor, The area in the end of the last molar is swollen and it is painful. The last molar in the above side of the mouth is coming in contact with that skin below from yesterday. I thought it will be normal in a day and the pain was less in the morning but now it is the same as yesterday nig... Read Full »
Query: Hello doctor, I had all four impacted wisdom teeth out a week ago. The pain has been absolutely horrible which I knew it would be. However, my left side has healed very well, is no longer swollen with minimal sensitivity. Now my right side is still as swollen as day two or three. It is hard, sensi... Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, I recently had my tooth cavity filled with a silver filling. I read on the internet that silver fillings are toxic to human kind. Please suggest what I can do. Shall I get it removed, and replaced with some other material that is not hazardous? Read Full »
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