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Wisdom Tooth 101

Scan of a wisdom tooth

Wisdom Tooth 101

5 June 2022

Contrary to what their name suggests, wisdom teeth will not improve your intelligence. They’re called that as they typically appear when you’re older, between the ages of 17 and 21. Wisdom teeth are the teeth at the back of your mouth, completing a set of 32 adult teeth, which includes two on top and two on the bottom.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are third molars that don’t have enough room to emerge or develop normally in the back of the mouth. They are the final adult teeth to erupt. The average person has four wisdom teeth in the rear of their mouth, two on top and two on the bottom.

Wisdom teeth can occasionally emerge at an angle or become caught and only partially emerge due to a lack of room. Impacted wisdom teeth are those that grow in this way.

What can damage your wisdom teeth?

Any type of trauma, such as biting down on hard sweets or receiving a hit to the face, might break a molar. However, the eruption of your wisdom teeth might cause breakage for the following reasons:

  • Its surrounding molar may be obstructing the wisdom tooth’s attempt to emerge.
  • It could erupt at an unusual angle.
  • It could have been damaged before the eruption.

Also, if you have an easy eruption but your wisdom tooth becomes rotten due to disease, it is more likely to break.

Infection & decay in wisdom teeth

When it comes to a chipped or broken wisdom teeth, time is of the essence to prevent further oral health issues. With an untreated broken wisdom tooth, there’s usually a crack or hole that’s more vulnerable to bacteria and tooth decay. And that can set off a chain reaction that you’ll want to avoid:

  • Because it’s difficult to clean a damaged molar, bacteria could enter and cause it to deteriorate. And you can end up with a tooth infection.
  • An infection in your tooth can spread to your gum tissue, neighbouring teeth, and jaw.
  • If not treated, the infection could spread to other parts of your body, causing more health problems.

Signs of an infected wisdom tooth include:

  • Swelling around the damaged tooth and surrounding tissue
  • Throbbing pain
  • Fever

We want to keep you from experiencing any of the above, so please enquire about treatment as soon as the break happens.

Why are wisdom teeth removed?

If your wisdom teeth are impacted but not causing any problems, they normally don’t need to be removed. This is due to the fact that there is no demonstrated benefit and the possibility of consequences.

Wisdom teeth that are impacted or have not fully broken through the gum line might cause dental problems. Food and germs can get stuck around the margins of wisdom teeth, causing plaque to form, which can lead to:

  • Decayed teeth (dental caries)
  • Periodontal disease (also called gingivitis/gum disease)
  • Pericoronitis – which is an infection of the soft tissue around the tooth caused by plaque.
  • Cellulitis – which is a bacterial infection of the cheek, tongue, or throat.
  • An abscess – which is a collection of pus in your wisdom teeth or surrounding tissue caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Benign growths and cysts – A cyst can form when a wisdom tooth does not cut through the gum (a fluid-filled swelling)

How are wisdom teeth removed?

Your dentist may extract your wisdom teeth or refer you to a professional oral surgeon for treatment in the hospital. The treatment process will be detailed to you prior to it commencing and you may be requested to sign a consent form.

A local anaesthetic injection is usually used to numb the region around the tooth. Your dentist or oral surgeon will apply pressure right before the tooth is extracted to enlarge the tooth socket by swaying the tooth back and forth.

Sometimes a minor cut in the gum is required, and the tooth may need to be chopped into smaller pieces before being extracted.

You may experience swelling and discomfort both within and outside your mouth after your wisdom teeth are removed. Mild bruising will also likely show in the immediate days after treatment. The first three days are usually the worst, although it can persist for up to two weeks.

How long does wisdom tooth treatment take?

A wisdom teeth removal can take anywhere from a few minutes to 20 minutes, or even longer in some cases.

What are the risks of wisdom tooth removal?

The removal of wisdom teeth carries the same dangers as other dental treatments. Infection or delayed healing are two of them, and both are more likely if you smoke throughout your rehabilitation.

A dry socket, which causes a dull, aching sensation in your gums or jaw, as well as a terrible odour or taste from the empty tooth socket, is another possible issue. Not following your dentist’s aftercare advice will lead to an increased chance of dry socket.

Nerve injury is also a possibility, which can cause tingling or numbness in your tongue, lower lip, chin, teeth, and gums. This is normally just transient but it’s important to note, it can be permanent in exceptional circumstances.

Maintain your oral health or get expert medical advice from Etwall Dental Practice. If you feel as though you may require any of the aforementioned wisdom tooth treatments or any other cosmetic dental procedures, please get in touch with us via phone on 01283 733391 or fill out our contact form and a member of the team will get back to you to discuss booking a dental appointment.

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