Introduction to Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that usually emerge in your late teens or early twenties. They are one of several vestigial parts of our body that are no longer necessary for survival. Wisdom teeth used to be essential for survival when our diets consisted of tougher foods.
However, now that the human jaw is smaller, emerging wisdom teeth can cause several problems as they often grow abnormally or fail to erupt through the gums. Wisdom teeth can grow at an angle and cause your other teeth to move, or they can become impacted.
In some cases, your wisdom teeth may not cause any painful symptoms, but this does not mean that they are not having a negative effect on your oral health. Impacted wisdom teeth can build up bacteria and food particles that can be difficult to reach with regular brushing and flossing.
Many dentists recommend removing your wisdom teeth even if they are healthy, if your jaw is too small and the wisdom teeth are pressing on your other teeth. Removing wisdom teeth later could mean a more complex extraction and longer recovery period as the jawbone and tooth root are stronger as you get older.
A number of issues can arise if you do not have your wisdom teeth removed, especially if they are impacted.
- Damage to other teeth can occur as wisdom teeth can press on adjacent teeth causing them to move. This can cause bite issues, crowding, and crookedness.
- If your wisdom tooth becomes infected a cyst can form around the tooth. If left untreated, cysts can weaken the jawbone and cause nerve damage.
- Wisdom teeth can increase the likelihood of sinus issues like congestion and sinus pain.
- The tissue around your wisdom teeth can swell and become inflamed making it more difficult to clean leading to gum disease.
- Partially erupted wisdom teeth create crevices that build up food particles and bacteria that are difficult to clean properly; this increases your risk of developing cavities.
Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
When your wisdom teeth are impacted inside your jaw, they cannot erupt fully causing numerous dental issues. To determine if you have a potentially impacted wisdom tooth, here are a few signs to look for.
- Swollen or tender gums over the wisdom teeth which indicate inflammation.
- Bleeding gums.
- A swollen painful jaw.
- Bad breath.
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth.
- Difficulty fully opening your mouth.
When is Extraction Needed?
An impacted wisdom tooth can be a very painful condition, so if you are experiencing any pain in your wisdom teeth or jaw it is recommended that you visit an Emergency Dentist in St Albans as soon as possible. There are also several other reasons why you might need a wisdom tooth extraction.
- If your wisdom teeth are growing at an angle that puts pressure on the adjacent teeth.
- If an impacted wisdom tooth has become infected due to an inability to clean away bacteria and debris.
- If bacteria from an impacted wisdom tooth could potentially enter the bloodstream negatively affecting other organs.
- In cases where cysts or tumours form around the base of the impacted tooth, they can severely damage the jawbone, the nerves, and the surrounding teeth.
- For people who have had orthodontic work, emerging or impacted wisdom teeth can undo all the straightening work that your braces did potentially causing more serious misalignment and bite issues.
What to Expect After Extraction?
It is important to care for the wound in your mouth after a wisdom tooth extraction. Occasionally complications can arise such as infection, dry socket, sinus damage, weakened jawbone or reduced sensation in the lips and tongue. Some signs to look for after your surgery include:
- Bad breath.
- Excessive bleeding.
- Swelling that lasts for more than a few days.
- Pain that lasts for several few days.
- Swelling in the neck.
If you experience any of these signs following your wisdom tooth extraction, contact your dentist immediately.
Every case is different so your recovery period can take from a week to more than a month. But there are some things you can do to speed up your recovery and make yourself more comfortable.
- Rinse often with warm saltwater to remove food debris and reduce infection. Mix ½ tsp of salt with warm water and rinse 5 – 6 times per day and after you eat.
- Rest with your head elevated to help the flow of lymph fluid and avoid headaches.
- Use a cold compress on the side of your face throughout the day to reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Eat soft foods that are high in nutrients such as avocados, yoghurt, vegetable purees, or smoothies.
- Do not use a straw when drinking. This can cause negative pressure in your mouth and dislodge the blood clot in your wound increasing the risk of dry socket. Smoking and spitting can also dislodge the blood clot.
Risks of Not Removing Impacted Wisdom Teeth
It is recommended that people have their wisdom teeth removed before the age of 30 as the jawbone and tooth root are less embedded and more malleable making the extraction and recovery faster. Catching wisdom tooth issues early also makes it more likely that your case will not be complex or require general anaesthesia which can be more costly.
Some of the other risks associated with not removing your wisdom teeth include tooth decay and gum disease. Infection, jawbone erosion, cysts, tooth misalignment, and pain.
If you are suffering from wisdom tooth pain, or experience any of the other symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth, contact your local dentist as soon as possible for an appointment and wisdom tooth extraction.
High Oaks Dental Practice is a Private and NHS Dentist in St Albans. Using the latest technologies, High Oaks Dental provides wide range of dental treatments with all the comfort and caring manner. To achieve a confident smile, visit our website or call us on 01727 893 430.