Wisdom teeth or the “third molars” usually come through in a person’s late teens and early twenties, although they can also come through later.
Most people have 4 wisdom teeth, and some people have none. Wisdom teeth may need to be removed due to the lack of space at the rear of the jaw. The wisdom teeth push through and become wedged or “impacted” and can cause problems such as pain and infection.
Your Dentist may refer you to an Oral or Maxillofacial surgeon if your wisdom teeth are likely to be very difficult or complicated to remove.
When do wisdom teeth have to be removed?
- If there isn’t enough space for the teeth to push through
- If Orthodontic work is required, they may need to be removed to prevent overcrowding
- If they are causing pain and infection and recurrence is likely
- If they are likely to cause future problems, it is far easier to remove them when a person is younger as the roots haven’t formed completely and the bone surrounding the tooth is softer, which allows for easier removal and potentially less damage to nerves, bone or other teeth
What problems are caused by wisdom teeth?
When the impacted tooth pushes through the gum, an infection at the top can begin including pain, swelling and jaw stiffness. The infection may also cause bad breath and an unpleasant taste. Swallowing may be painful and there may be a general feeling of being unwell
Wisdom teeth may push nearby teeth out of position
Pressure from the wisdom tooth can cause pain in the tooth next to it. An infection can also cause pain
Sometimes a sac of fluid or a cyst can form around the wisdom tooth if it isn’t removed. This can destroy bone and damage other teeth and gums
If an upper wisdom tooth pushes sideways out of the gum, it may cause an ulcer where it rubs against the inside of the cheek
Food can become trapped between the wisdom tooth and the tooth next to it, which can cause cavities in both teeth
Sometimes an impacted wisdom tooth can push against the tooth next to it which can then cause a “resorption cavity”, which is where it’s being hit, often leading to serious damage in both teeth. They become infected or abscessed and removal of both teeth are required.