Wisdom teeth also known as third molars are the last teeth to erupt. They may become a problem for you as they grow and develop in each corner of your mouth. Problems often develop gradually since development normally spans several years. Nevertheless, these gradual changes can cause sudden and severe pain. Understanding why such things can happen may help you to deal with these problems, or better still, to encourage you to take preventive measures before they occur.
The jawbone grows to approximately its adult size by your late teens. Unfortunately, that size is often too small to hold developing wisdom teeth. This happens because our jaws are smaller than those of early humans who needed large jaws and more teeth for their tougher diet.
When there is not enough room for your wisdom teeth, they may become impacted, or partially trapped in the jawbone and gums. The crown, or top of the tooth, may erupt, or just break through the gum, or it may remain completely within the bone. The roots can grow in unusual directions and may cause a variety of problems in your mouth and with your sinus cavity or the nerve in your lower jaw. The primary preventive measure for wisdom teeth is removal, preferably at an early stage.
Impacted Wisdom Tooth
A tooth becomes impacted due to lack of space in the dental arch and its eruption is therefore prevented by gum, bone, another tooth or all three. Lack of space occurs because our jaws have become smaller through evolution. We do not lose teeth through decay as frequently as in the past and our diet does not wear down our teeth as much.
Impacted wisdom teeth can grow in a variety of directions. A wisdom tooth may grow toward your other teeth, away from them, or even in horizontal or vertical positions. When such conditions occur, it’s far simpler and less painful to have them removed early before they have a chance to firmly anchor in your jaw as the teeth grow and the roots lengthen.
Assessment of wisdom tooth
Not everyone has problems with their wisdom teeth. Factors that determine whether you will have problems include the size of your jaw and how your wisdom teeth grow in. There may be pain and swelling, or you may have no symptoms at all even though the other teeth in your mouth may be at risk of damage. In addition to actual pain, common problems caused by wisdom teeth can include gum disease, crowding, decay, poor position, and cysts.
Since it is not practical for most people to evaluate how their wisdom teeth are developing, the best approach is to visit your dentist for an evaluation. The dentist will review your dental history, take dental X-rays, and perform an examination to determine the general health of your mouth and the condition of your wisdom teeth. If a problem is detected, the dentist may recommend surgery to remove them and eliminate or avoid any unpleasant symptoms. Early removal is best for most patients as it usually helps to avoid more serious dental problems later on.
It is very important to talk to your dentist about extraction procedure, risks, possible complications and outcomes of the removal of these teeth. The actual extraction may be done by a dentist or it may be referred to a specialist. This decision is based on the dentist’s preference and the unique features of each individual case. If you are unsure about whether or not to proceed with the treatment suggested by your dentist, it is a good idea to get a second opinion. If you decide after consulting with a dentist to not have any teeth extracted, they should be monitored at every dental visit.