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Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars are the last teeth to erupt. This occurs usually between the ages of 17 and 25. There is a great deal of controversy regarding whether or not these teeth need to be removed.
It is not necessary to remove them if they are correctly positioned in your mouth and do not cause any pain or dental problems.
If they are impacted and/or cause crowding in your teeth, the dentist may decide that you have them removed.
An impacted tooth is a tooth that gets blocked as it is pushing through the gum into your mouth (erupting). Wisdom teeth are frequently impacted, because there is often not enough room in your mouth for them.
They typically remain below the surface of your gum line and lie horizontally instead of standing upright like they are supposed to. A wisdom tooth also might be trying to come in sideways, or it might be tilted towards another tooth.
Keeping an impacted wisdom tooth that slightly sprouts can be difficult because it can be a place for plaque and bacteria to accumulate. This could lead to the development of cavities and could also cause a much larger infection, involving not only your teeth, but, if untreated, it can spread to your throat or neck.
Impacted wisdom teeth can collide with the roots of your molars and that can be very painful. An impacted tooth that pushes on the neighboring molar can produce tooth movement, decay or gum disease. It can also change the way your teeth come together.
An impacted tooth can lead to an infection called pericoronitis ( the flap of gum on top of it can become infected and swollen). Symptoms include:
- swelling of the gum in the back of your mouth
- difficulty opening your jaw
- bad breath
- a bad taste in the mouth
- pain when chewing or biting.
Minor iritation can be relieved by rinsing with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water) .If pericoronitis returns, you may need to have the flap of gum tissue on top of the wisdom tooth removed. In some cases, because the tooth does not completely enter the mouth and food and bacteria keep building up under the gum, the wisdom tooth will need to be extracted.
What if they have grown in and don’t hurt ?
Wisdom teeth that have an accessible location in the mouth and cause minimal crowding are fine to keep. If your wisdom teeth have cavities and are not easily cleansable due to their location, filling the cavities is not a good solution because they’ll continue to develop more cavities. These wisdom teeth need to be removed.
Patients are often referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to have an impacted wisdom tooth removed. Before removing the tooth, the dentist or surgeon will discuss the procedure and the type of anesthesia and sedation that will be used.
After the extraction you may have swelling of the cheeks and jaw. It may be hard to eat certain foods. You can eat softer foods, like : pudding, mashed potatoes, soup, yogurt, applesauce.
Some people have all four of their wisdom teeth taken out at once. These extractions usually are done in an oral surgeon’s office with sedation and local anesthesia. Antibiotics are prescribed after these extractions because there is always a risk of infection of the socket, especially after extracting the lower wisdom teeth. I personally don’t recommend the extraction of all the four wisdom teeth at once.