DON'T IGNORE YOUR WISDOM TEETH!
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop and while most people have 4 wisdom teeth, some may have more or less. For many teenagers getting wisdom teeth removed is like a right of passage! However, do you actually know why it is a good idea to get your wisdom teeth checked when you are a teenager?
Since wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop, there is often limited space available in the jaws to properly accommodate them. In the majority of patients, these teeth are IMPACTED, while in others they may be PARTIALLY EXPOSED or ERUPTED.
What causes a wisdom tooth to get impacted?
Wisdom teeth usually erupt in the late teen years through the mid-20s. While a small percentage of the population have wisdom teeth that are able to emerge into the mouth without a problem, in many cases these teeth become impacted. When there is inadequate space available for normal development and emergence into the oral cavity, wisdom teeth become impacted either in the bone, in the gums on partially in both. An impacted tooth is essentially a trapped tooth!
Impacted wisdom teeth tend to develop and grow at angles, pressing on to adjacent teeth and vital structures like important sensory nerves or sinuses.
Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
While most wisdom teeth are asymptomatic, when they become infected you may experience any one of the following:
- Swollen or red gums around the wisdom tooth area
- Jaw pain
- Bad breath
- Radiation of pain to the ears
- A foul taste
- Swelling of your face
- Pain on adjacent teeth
If you are experiencing any one of the above, make sure you schedule an exam with your dentist.
As mentioned before, in most cases wisdom teeth are asymptomatic. Unfortunately patients will take the lack of symptoms as being the same as having healthy wisdom teeth. The key point to take home is that PAIN FREE IS NOT THE SAME AS DISEASE FREE!!!
Wisdom teeth can lead to the development of serious disease and for the majority of times, they will do so without causing any pain or discomfort to the patient. As such, issues are often picked up by accident on a routine exam or x-ray. However, sometimes the problem may have progressed for a long time resulting in more extensive surgery, increased cost and lengthier recovery time.
Problems Associated with Wisdom Teeth
1) Gum problems: because of their awkward position, wisdom teeth can lead to gum disease and bone loss that often extends to the adjacent 2nd molar. You will notice this as food trap, bad taste and odour.
2) Cavities: since they are so far back in the mouth, keeping them clean is often difficult. When wisdom teeth are erupted or partially exposed and not properly maintained, cavities can develop which again can extend to the adjacent teeth
3) Crowding: when wisdom teeth are developing, in order to create space for themselves, they may end up pushing into the teeth in front resulting in crowding
4) Cysts and Tumors: wisdom teeth are commonly involved in the formation of lesions that develop in the jawbone which can damage adjacent teeth, nerves, sinuses. Their removal may require extensive surgery
Wisdom teeth can be associated with numerous issues when they are partially or fully impacted. Even if they are fully erupted into the mouth, they can still lead to the development of gum disease and cavities. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, these problems slowly develop without resulting in pain or discomfort. However, PAIN FREE IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING DISEASE FREE.
A lot of the issues associated with wisdom teeth can be prevented by having annual clinical and radiographic exams by your dentist. When indicated, it is best to have these teeth removed when young as the surgery will be a lot easier and the risks and potential complications associated with wisdom teeth surgery are less likely to occur. If complications do occur, chances of full recovery are often best when you are young due to better healing capacity.
Please check out the following link for more information regarding Wisdom Teeth:
If you wish to discuss your wisdom teeth and determine if you benefit from having them removed, please contact our office at 905-553-6725 to schedule your consultation.