Wise Advice on Wisdom Teeth

September 30, 2015

These days, dentists and oral surgeons often recommend that wisdom teeth be removed before they become a serious problem. Why?

Ideally, the human mouth should hold 28 teeth, but with the last-to-erupt wisdom teeth — typically between the ages of 17 and 25 — there are actually 32 teeth fighting for that space. Some individuals will have enough space to accommodate these additional teeth in a healthy and maintainable manner while others will not. (Wisdom teeth are thought to be evolutionary leftovers, meant to replace teeth that may have fallen out during a time when our ancestors depended on rougher diets.) If left on their own, overcrowding, periodontal disease, bone and nerve damage, infection or even cysts can be the result. Often these teeth erupt sideways, or at an incorrect angle making daily hygiene difficult and, in time, causing damage to more vital teeth.

Wisdom teeth can also become trapped or impacted prior to eruption and it is important to recognize the warning signs and deal with this issue as soon as possible. Without an open connection to the mouth, impacted wisdom teeth typically rest on the roots of adjacent teeth causing permanent damage to important second molars.

Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth are easily recognized and should not be ignored. Red, tender, swollen or bleeding gums are all elements of concern. Pain at the back of the mouth is another obvious first sign. Further, more serious indicators include swelling around the jaw, a bad taste in the mouth, unpleasant breath, ear aches or headaches in the joint where the jawbone meets the skull (TMJ) Under these circumstances it is important to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

The typical recommended treatment for wisdom teeth conditions is removal, a procedure which can usually be completed right at our clinic. Should the possibility of complications be detected, your dentist may refer the procedure to a specialty setting.

As always, maintaining regular dental cleanings and checkups, along with consistent updated panoramic x-rays is so important. That way, your dentist can detect potential trouble before you experience symptoms. The sooner issues relating to wisdom tooth eruption are resolved, the less will be the likelihood of added pain, damage and expense.

Please feel welcome to contact our treatment coordinator for further information about this, or any matter relating to your oral health. The team at Santé-Highbury Dental is always ready to help you maintain that beautiful, healthy smile.