The wisdom tooth is the third and the last set of molars that appear in your late teens or early twenties. There are four wisdom teeth – two in the upper jaw and two in the lower. There are very few people who have all the four wisdom teeth aligned and functional. For most people, they are misaligned – they don’t erupt properly. This misalignment can damage the adjacent nerves and teeth. Let us look at the problems wisdom teeth can cause.
Problems wisdom teeth can cause
- Wisdom teeth that are positioned incorrectly can cause food particles to become trapped, giving cavity-causing bacteria space to grow inside the mouth
- Misaligned wisdom tooth makes it difficult to floss between the teeth, causing plaque to build-up
- A partially developed wisdom tooth may allow bacteria to enter the gums and cause an infection to develop, leading to swelling, pain and stiffness in the jaw
- If the wisdom tooth does not have enough room to come through, they may crowd or damage the adjacent tooth
- An impacted wisdom tooth can lead to the formation of a cyst near or on the tooth, which may further damage the bones or the roots that support your teeth
When should you visit a dentist?
You should visit a dental care specialist if you notice changes in or around the area where the wisdom tooth emerged. Look out for these signs –
- Sacs filled with fluid – cysts
- Recurrent infection of the soft tissues
- Damage or decay to the adjacent teeth
- Gum disease
- Extensive tooth decay
The decision of removing your wisdom teeth should be taken after a thorough consultation with a dentist. Usually, dental specialists recommend wisdom tooth extraction if they do not erupt fully, to prevent future complications. It is advised that you get your wisdom tooth removed at a young age before the bones and roots are fully formed. This is because older people with denser bones take more time to recover.
A wisdom tooth that has not been removed should be monitored regularly because the possibility of developing problems later on still exists. Maintain your dental hygiene – be sure to floss the area around your wisdom tooth and follow up with your dental care specialist regularly.
A fully erupted wisdom tooth may not be problematic if it is positioned correctly. It is normal to experience mild discomfort when they appear but if you encounter severe pain or any of the aforementioned problems wisdom teeth can cause, visit a dentist immediately.