Wisdom teeth are the last four teeth to erupt in the mouth. Sometimes referred to as the third molars, wisdom teeth are positioned at the back of both the upper and lower jaw, on the right and left side. Wisdom teeth begin forming in the jaw at around seven years of age, unlike other teeth that form in the jaw just before birth. Generally speaking, wisdom teeth appear when a person reaches late teens to early twenties, but this can differ greatly between individuals, and sometimes a wisdom tooth will only partially erupt or not at all.
If a wisdom tooth has erupted in the mouth and is properly positioned and non problematic, it requires no special treatment. As with any other teeth, good dental hygiene is important. A long thin brush will help to reach the back of the mouth and assist with a thorough cleaning.
Wisdom teeth are, however, quite renowned for causing difficulties. Generally speaking, problems arise when there is not enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt into a functional position. Should this occur, there are a range of procedures a dentist can perform to treat problematic wisdom teeth.
Examination And X-Ray.
An dentist will be able to take an X-ray of a wisdom tooth and its root. From this, they can examine its position and determine if the wisdom tooth is likely to erupt into a functional position or not. Wisdom teeth that do not have enough room are forced to come through at an angle, will be essentially useless for chewing and are likely to cause pain and discomfort. A dentist will formulate a treatment plan for individual wisdom teeth and any problems they may cause.
Treatment Of Pericoronitis/Operculitis.
If a wisdom tooth only partially erupts, problems present when food debris become trapped underneath the exposed edge of the gum. The awkward position of partially erupted wisdom teeth can make thorough cleaning extremely difficult and result in infection and decay. The gum surrounding the exposed crown of the tooth can become swollen, inflamed and painful. This condition is called pericoronitis or operculitis. A dentist may prescribe antibiotics or a medicated mouthwash. Thorough cleaning will also help. If the problem is persistent, your dentist may advise having the tooth removed.
Extraction And Aftercare.
Wisdom teeth can often become impacted. This occurs when a wisdom tooth erupts and grows at an improper angle, often causing damage to the neighbouring teeth (hard impaction) and gums (soft impaction). This may also cause friction and discomfort of the cheek wall, tongue and surrounding soft tissue. For any of these issues, or if a wisdom tooth is particularly problematic, extraction is advised. When extraction is required, it is best to have this completed as soon as possible. The longer a wisdom tooth is left without treatment, the more difficult it may prove, as the roots of wisdom teeth solidify in the jaw bone as time passes. Extraction will be performed under one of the many anaesthetic methods available. An X-ray will be taken prior to the procedure to analyse the root's position and identify any specific concerns. In addition, those who have had braces fitted are recommended to have extraction performed as soon as their orthodontic treatment is completed. This is due to the potentially disastrous effect wisdom teeth can have on the newly aligned teeth in the rest of the mouth.
A dentist will be able to advise on appropriate after care for wisdom tooth extractions. Antibiotics may be required, in addition to the maintenance of any sutures needed during the procedure. Thorough dental hygiene and an appropriate mouthwash are recommended to reduce the chances of further infection or complications. To learn more, contact a clinic that offers wisdom teeth services.