Wisdom teeth are the last ones to emerge, and they come through when you’ve gained “wisdom.” That’s a hoax. Wisdom teeth are so-called because they come out at a later stage in your life when you’re in your late teens or early twenties. Usually serving the purpose of grinding food, wisdom teeth are now considered vestigial organs – they don’t serve any purpose anymore. The reason is that the human jaw has become smaller over time. So, whenever a wisdom tooth does erupt, it might not have enough space to adjust in the mouth. With a total of 4 wisdom teeth, your oral cavity might not be able to accommodate any. Thus, wisdom teeth removal becomes necessary.
Wisdom tooth pain is like no other. There may be a throbbing sensation. You might even feel it at the back of your mouth or jaw while feeling the pressure. However, wisdom teeth don’t always come with a bang. Many people successfully grow a wisdom tooth in their mouth. They may feel discomfort, soreness, redness, and swelling for some time, but it goes away. Therefore, you need to know when a wisdom tooth will cause problems for you so that you can work proactively against it.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
In total, there are 32 teeth in your mouth. However, not all come out at the same time. The third set of molars, the wisdom teeth, appear at a time in our life when we’re becoming “wiser;” between the ages of 17 and 25. They come out on the back of the mouth, two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw on each side.
Once the diet of our ancestors consisted of raw and rough food that needed chewing. Wisdom teeth helped grind these foods. Moreover, if other teeth fell out, they acted as replacements. However, with a shift in our diet, we now consume softer, cooked food that doesn’t need a lot of rough chewing. This has made the presence of wisdom teeth redundant. They are considered “vestigial organs.”
It won’t be surprising if, after some time, people stopped having wisdom teeth in their mouths. Not everyone has wisdom teeth, even today. A dental X-ray might help reveal their absence. There’s nothing to worry about if you don’t have your wisdom tooth.
Some postulate that with the increase in the size of the brain, the size of the jaw became smaller. So, now, when the wisdom teeth do want to come out, there’s no room for them. This can result in overcrowding. They may usually come out crooked or misaligned.
What Health Problems Can Wisdom Teeth Cause?
Wisdom teeth removal may become necessary if you’re experiencing the following problems:
- Misalignment – Since the other 28 adult teeth in your mouth are already in place when these molars are trying to make their way out, they may end up coming out sideways or misaligned. It can also end up damaging the surrounding teeth.
- Pain – They may even exert pressure on the surrounding nerves and bones, which can result in pain.
- Infection – Another problem that arises because of wisdom tooth emergence is that it essentially tears the gum tissue apart to come out. This can result in infection. That’s because small food particles can get stuck in the pockets between the gum tissue and the tooth. This can cause redness, swelling, tenderness, and pain.
- Impaction -An impacted wisdom tooth develops when the molar gets stuck beneath the gum. Not always does it remain completely stuck. Sometimes, it can partially emerge. That is a partially impacted wisdom tooth. It can get infected. The reason why an impacted wisdom tooth may develop is that it may grow out at a grow angle. This can, later on, exert pressure on the surrounding teeth. Moreover, lack of space in the jaw can also result in tooth impaction.
Not always does an impacted wisdom tooth cause any symptoms. However, you need to seek medical advice from your dentist or oral surgeon since you may need wisdom tooth removal surgery. Impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to the development of cysts around them. It can cause bone loss.
Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?
Wisdom teeth removal is not always necessary. If there is enough space in your mouth, they can emerge without causing so many problems. As long as you’re able to perform your normal oral hygiene routine with these teeth, you have not much to worry about. However, your dentist may recommend wisdom tooth removal surgery if:
You Have An Infection
Since it is more difficult to clean them (they may come out sideways or have alignment issues), it is easy for a wisdom tooth to get infected. Food particles and bacteria can get stuck in the space between the gum tissue and the tooth. This can result in an abscess. As a temporary remedy, you can consider a saltwater rinse. Mix some salt in water and gargle with it for 30 seconds twice a day. It can help with cleaning the area. However, you still need to have wisdom teeth removal surgery.
You Have Pericoronitis
It is an inflammation of the gum tissue that grows over the wisdom tooth. It affects those wisdom teeth which have erupted partially. Bacteria, debris, and plaque can get trapped in the area, which can result in infection. Left untreated, it can cause damage to other tissues.
You Have Pain in Jaw and Tooth
One of the most common problems with the eruption of wisdom teeth is a pain in the tooth and jaw. That’s because the emerging tooth is putting pressure on the teeth and tissues nearby. You may even end up with a bad headache. This is also when you should consider wisdom teeth removal.
You Have Tooth Decay
You may find it difficult to properly brush or floss your wisdom teeth. Their alignment can cause problems, and so can their position in the mouth. That is why you may end up with wisdom tooth decay. In such a situation, your dentist might suggest extraction instead of fillings, crowns, or root canal.
What Is the Procedure For Wisdom Teeth Removal?
There are two ways by which your dentist or oral surgeon may go about wisdom teeth removal. They usually take less than an hour.
In this, the dentist will give you local anaesthesia to numb the area around the tooth. On the removal of the tooth, you may feel some pressure. You’ll feel the dentist trying to pull out the tooth by wriggling it sideways. That’s because s/he needs to widen the tooth socket for the tooth to come out. As a result of a simple extraction, you may experience bleeding. Do not brush your teeth or rinse your mouth for 24 hours after the procedure. Also, avoid hot or cold foods.
A surgical extraction is usually needed for impacted wisdom teeth removal. The surgeon needs to make an incision on the gum tissue and even cut the bone to remove the tooth from underneath. The surgeon may end up cutting the tooth into smaller pieces so that not much damage comes to the bone while protecting the nerves and surrounding tissue.
Local anaesthesia can do well here. However, in some special cases, the patient gets sedation so that the patient is sleepy through the whole procedure and doesn’t feel any pain.
What Is the Recovery Process After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Soon after the procedure, you may have slight bleeding. After the anaesthesia wears off, you might also have pain, swelling, and stiffness in the jaw. Your surgeon may prescribe painkillers. It can take almost a month and a half for your mouth to heal completely.
A rare complication of wisdom tooth removal is a “dry socket.” It happens when the blood clot doesn’t form on the surgical site. The dry socket can cause bad breath and leave a foul taste in the mouth. You may develop it 3 to 5 days after the surgery. It can also cause pain.
Make sure that you don’t exercise for at least three days after the surgery. Also, do not smoke for at least 48 hours after the surgery. It can delay the healing process and increase the risk of postoperative complications
What Can You Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
It’s best if you stick to eating soft foods for at least a week, like the following:
- Apple sauce
- Mashed potatoes
- Ice cream
- Scrambled eggs
- Soft cheese
- Smoothies and milkshakes
- Mashed fruits and vegetables (bananas, carrots, etc.)
Do not eat anything too hot, too cold, or too spicy. Make sure that you eat healthy by making nutritious meals. They’ll help you regain your strength so that you’ll recover quickly.
Also, stay away from sodas and alcohol for the first 24 hours. You can use an ice pack to help reduce the swelling. Take your antibiotics as prescribed by the oral surgeon. It may take some time for your mouth to heal, but you’ll be in good health if you follow the aftercare instructions.
Summing It Up
Not all wisdom teeth need removal. If there is enough room in your mouth, they can emerge without a hitch. However, you need to take care of their cleanliness. Still, some dentists recommend having it extracted for precaution. If your wisdom tooth is causing you pain, contact us for our dental treatment services.