The last teeth to erupt are the wisdom teeth. They are called wisdom teeth because they come in after childhood. They are the third molars and generally appear in the late teens or early twenties. Wisdom tooth extraction is common due to many factors.
Some people are fortunate enough to have few problems with their wisdom teeth. These people make up roughly a little over 25% of the general population. Most people with wisdom teeth have impactions and get them extracted. There are good reasons for wisdom tooth extraction, particularly if they are not erupting correctly.
When a Wisdom Tooth Extraction is Necessary
Most wisdom teeth do not come in like normal teeth. They emerge sideways, under the adjacent teeth or any number of positions other than the ideal position. Wisdom tooth extraction is indicated if you have:
- Pain – An impacted wisdom tooth can cause severe pain. It may push on the adjacent tooth as it erupts causing irritation to the nerve. As the nerve becomes more irritated and tissue around the two teeth becomes inflamed, you begin to feel pain. This pain can be minimal, but it is often very severe and can cause jaw pain and headaches. Wisdom tooth extraction will eliminate the pain.
- Bacterial infection – A partially erupted wisdom tooth may not cause you any discomfort at first. Yet, because the tooth is not fully erupted it can be a place for plaque and bacteria to build up. This can cause a bacterial infection which can compromise your oral and general health. Gum disease in this area is called pericoronitis which can be very painful.
- Crowding – In some instances the jaw bone is not large enough to accommodate all the teeth. When the third molars begin to erupt they may cause crowding which can move the teeth out of alignment. This in turn can be the source of additional oral problems. Food traps can be created from the misalignment making gingivitis more likely in hard to reach areas.
- Cysts – The third molar is contained within a sac as it develops in the jawbone. Sometimes the sac becomes filled with fluid. This fluid buildup can cause a cyst to form. If this happens, the jawbone, teeth and nerves can become damaged.
- Decay – Third molars are difficult to keep clean. Some studies have shown that these teeth may be more susceptible to decay. If the decay is not treated infection will develop.
Unless your wisdom tooth is erupting normally, you will most likely need a wisdom tooth extraction. If you are among the percentage of the population with normal development and appearance of wisdom teeth, it is still essential that you take extra care in keeping those third molars healthy. Because they are the last teeth in the jawbone they can be very difficult to keep clean and become more vulnerable to developing gingivitis and dental decay.
Regular visits to the dentist will reveal any brewing problems with third molars. There is no way to prevent a tooth from becoming impacted; however, your dentist can monitor the development of your teeth and if you need a wisdom tooth extraction, it can be performed before serious discomfort or symptoms arise.
The dentists at Pearl Modern Dentistry provide great dental care in a warm and relaxing atmosphere. If you have symptoms of wisdom tooth impaction or if you need a dental checkup, contact us. Make your appointment for a thorough dental exam. Your oral health is vital to your overall well-being.