Wisdom teeth are theoretically called as the third molars. Apart from the 28 permanent teeth that erupt inside our oral cavity at the age of 7-14 years, there are four other molars which erupt at later stages of our life. These last four third molars erupt at the age of about 20-25 years when the adults are said to be more mature and attain wisdom. Hence the name wisdom teeth.
Earlier days the diet was very raw and coarse, so these third molars were said to increase the adult’s chewing capacity. But as time changed over, the diet patterns also changed and the jaw size also evolved, resulting in lesser space to accommodate the third molars. As many as 20-30% are said to have their lower wisdom teeth impacted.
When there is not sufficient space for the tooth to erupt, they tend to get locked inside the bone or partially erupt in the available space. Due to lack of space, the teeth tend to get locked in awkward positions like reverse tilt, lying flat or tilting forward etc. Such wisdom teeth are said to be impacted.
Not necessarily. If there are enough space and the teeth erupt normally, it seldom causes any problems.
But if there is no space and the teeth is not in proper position, they do cause serious problems.
1. Pericoronitis- This is a very common problem of an erupting wisdom tooth. The gums surrounding the erupting tooth is inflamed and causes severe discomfort and pain.
2. Food dislodgement or decay of the tooth causing severe infection and swelling. Sometimes this is associated with radiating pain towards the neck, ear and head region and restricted mouth opening.
Warm salt water gargling, with some antibiotics and painkillers, help in alleviating the symptoms.
When the tooth is not in the correct position to erupt, or when they cause repeated pericoronitis and infection without erupting. When the tooth is decayed and an RCT is not indicated or when orthodontic treatment necessitates removal.
Surgical removal of an impacted tooth is done at the dental chair with local anesthesia. A diagnostic x-ray is done to check the position of the tooth, with relation to the adjacent tooth, bone and the nerves underneath. This will help the surgeon to plan the surgery efficiently. Local anesthesia is more than sufficient and comfortable for the patient. For people who are apprehensive they can get it done under general anesthesia. Surgery time depends on the case by case basis and the complexity involved and is usually completed around 45 mins to an hour.
Post-operatively there can be some swelling and restricted mouth opening expected. But they can be well controlled with antibiotics and painkillers. It doesn’t affect patient from attending office. They usually get back to normal chewing functions in about 7-14 days’ time.
Very rarely, if the tooth is very close to the nerve, the procedure can cause some persistent numbness in the lips and tongue for more days. But no muscle or chewing functions will be disrupted. Post-operative hygiene is very important to avoid food impaction and infection.
For more details on treatment, procedure and follow up the book an appointment with us at Oris Dental Center.