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What is a wisdom tooth?
Wisdom tooth is the last tooth that erupts at the most posterior part of our dental arch. Wisdom tooth, also known as the third molar, usually starts to emerge between the age of 17 and 25. The number of wisdom teeth that one would have varies from person to person, some may have 1, 2, 3 or all 4 of them (2 on the top, 2 on the bottom). Although having wisdom teeth may be common, some may have none at all throughout their life.
Why would having wisdom teeth be a problem?
After understanding the basics of a wisdom tooth, let’s look at why some may not be the happiest with their wisdom teeth!
Wisdom teeth are commonly associated with pain but it is not necessarily an indication that something bad might go wrong with your wisdom tooth, there are multiple reasons behind this.
Growing pain - If your wisdom teeth are hurting, it could simply mean that they are starting to grow. When they break through the gums it can cause pain, slight swelling and soreness.
Impacted Tooth - Due to the lack of room for wisdom teeth to fully emerge, it is fairly common to find wisdom teeth as an impacted tooth. This happens when a wisdom tooth becomes stuck below the surface of your gums (impacted) and grows at an odd angle (normally it should emerge at an upright position), therefore possibly causing complications. If a wisdom tooth becomes impacted it can cause swelling, pain when chewing or biting, pain in the jaw and difficulty opening your mouth.
Cavity formation - Due to lack of space at the back of our mouth, wisdom teeth often grow very close to neighboring teeth. This tight space is hard to clean during brushing, making it a prime spot for cavities to form. Severe cavities that extend into the dentine of the teeth might be a reason for the pain.
Cyst Development - When a wisdom tooth is impacted, the pressure exerted by an erupting tooth can obstruct the blood flow and create an accumulation of fluid which leads to a cyst formation, called a dentigerous cyst. These are cysts that form at the site of a wisdom tooth impaction causing pain and damage in the tooth.
Gum Disease - Gum disease is more likely to form on wisdom teeth because their location and lack of space make them harder to clean. The difficulty cleaning impacted, partially erupted wisdom teeth increases the risk of developing a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis. This is a condition where Inflamed and swollen gum tissue is found overlying impacted wisdom teeth.
What would be the procedures if I want to remove my wisdom teeth?
When it comes to the procedure itself, a local anaesthetic will be used to block the pain from your nerves but you will remain awake throughout. The fear most people have is pain during the treatment; however, the procedure itself is actually pain-free. The pain after the procedure is typical of any surgical procedure and advice will be given on how to manage the healing socket after the procedure.
Having a wisdom tooth removed is generally straightforward and the extraction can take as little as a minute. The same method is used as would be for any other extraction, in that specialised instruments are used to widen the socket. The tooth is then rocked back and forth in order to loosen the fine ligament that holds it in place, and is then removed.
If the tooth is highly impacted, it could be necessary for the dentist to make a small incision in your gum to gain access to the tooth. Once removed, the dentist will use stitches (usually dissolvable) to help your gums to heal. In this scenario, the procedure can take around 20 minutes to complete.
What should I do to have a faster healing?
It is very important that you maintain good oral hygiene and brush your teeth as usual as best you can, gradually brushing nearer the wound day by day, eventually brushing away the stitches after several days.
You may be recommended to use an antimicrobial mouthwash, and often you will be prescribed salt-water rinses to help with wound healing; do this gently on the first day after your operation to avoid dislodging the clots that will have formed over the wounds. Gentle rinsing will also help keep the extraction site free from food debris.
Eat healthily and avoid food and drink for the first 6 hours or so after the operation. Fresh fruit and vegetables will help to ensure that your body has all of the nutrients it needs to heal. This is important even though you may not feel like eating. Eat soft or liquid foods for the first few days and once you get onto more solid foods, chew with your other teeth for the first few days.
Avoid alcohol and very hot or very cold drinks for the first week to avoid any complications.
You are advised to stop smoking as well – even if it’s just for the time that you’re recovering. This will immediately start to improve your circulation and your breathing, which aids in the healing process!
Well.. Should I remove my wisdom teeth then?
Many think that wisdom tooth removal is necessary for everyone, but in actual fact, it is not! You should consult your doctor about a wisdom tooth removal only if it is causing you unbearable pain, extensive tooth decay or if it is impacted (which will lead to further complications)!
If you wisdom teeth are growing well in an upright position, not causing any issues, it is perfectly fine to keep it! You should take good care of it and treat it as any other of your teeth :)
Oral health is as important as your overall health, so remember to take good care of them too! :D
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Disclaimer: As a service to our users and general public, Doc2Us provides health education contents. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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