What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth is another name for the last teeth in your permanent dentition, also known as third molars, usually arriving between the ages of 17-25 years. While most people have wisdom teeth, it is common to have a varying number of them, usually between one and four but occasionally more. Most wisdom teeth are impacted, which means you would not be able to see them when you look in your mouth because they have not erupted through your gingival tissue (your gums and supporting tissue).
If they are not visually present, Dr. Bertolini will confirm their presence with a panoramic x-ray and give you a diagnosis. If they do not need to be extracted because they have room to erupt through the tissue and won’t cause problems for the surrounding molars, it is very important that they are examined regularly at your hygiene appointments. The location of wisdom teeth in your mouth can make it extremely difficult to clean and floss around effectively.
Why remove wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the last to develop and despite your best efforts they, more often than not, cause problems because of a lack of space in your jaw. This lack of space causes:
- Wisdom teeth that do erupt can cause crowding or damage to other molars, because of lack of space.
- Wisdom teeth can erupt partially and create a place for food and bacteria to get trapped, which then leads to cavities or infection
- If wisdom teeth do not erupt in the proper position, it is extremely difficult to brush, floss and clean between adjacent teeth.
- If wisdom teeth are impacted, they will probably never erupt and can cause a cyst to form in the area which can cause damage to surrounding bone and teeth.
Besides disturbing the position of your other molars and difficulty cleaning, wisdom teeth may need to be extracted because the area can become infected. If this should occur, Dr. Bertolini would schedule an emergency extraction.
What are signs of infection?
- Swollen gum tissue behind the last molar.
- A bad taste or smell in your mouth.
- Intense pain in the back of your mouth when biting down.
- Swelling in the general area of the wisdom teeth; could be teeth, jaw or cheek.
- Difficulty swallowing, breathing or fever.
If not removed promptly, the infection can damage your other teeth and the bone around the infection site or become cystic. Warm salt water rinses or antibacterial mouth rinse and OTC painkillers can be used as short-term remedies, until your extraction appointment. Prolonged use of painkillers can actually worsen the condition because, while your pain is masked, the infection will worsen without removing its source.
If you have any of the above symptoms of infection, being seen by Dr. Bertolini at the first sign will help minimize any complications.