Wisdom Teeth: Purpose, Problems, and Solutions
The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come through the gums. They can also be the most problematic. While some people never develop any problems with their wisdom teeth, others end up needing to have them removed. Understanding the purpose of wisdom teeth and the problems that can develop is essential.
Wisdom Teeth Eruption
Most people do not get their wisdom teeth until they are in their late teens or early twenties. These teeth do not erupt until this time due to normal jaw development.
People usually have four wisdom teeth, with two up top and two on the bottom. Some people may have more or less.
Because they do not erupt through the gum tissue until later in life, individuals can experience problems. When wisdom teeth issues arise, it is important to see a dentist right away for wisdom teeth extraction.
What Is the Purpose of Wisdom Teeth?
Scientists believe wisdom teeth are no longer necessary, as human diets have changed over the years. Our ancestors consumed diets consisting of rougher foods that wore the teeth down over time.
Wisdom teeth came in later in life, to replace some of the worn-down or missing molars. Because of much softer diets, humans no longer need these teeth, yet they continue to grow.
The human mouth is designed to only hold about 28 teeth. If all four wisdom teeth erupt through the gum tissue, this leads to 32 teeth, which is often way too many for some mouths.
Common Problems with Wisdom Teeth
While some wisdom teeth erupt with no problems, many issues can arise. It is important to understand the common wisdom tooth issues and seek prompt dental care when symptoms occur. The following are some of the problems that may develop with wisdom teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth can occur for different reasons. Often, these teeth simply do not have room to come through the gum tissue. In some cases, the teeth are not formed correctly or are in the wrong position. They may partially erupt or remain trapped beneath the surface of the gum tissue.
Wisdom teeth that are impacted can cause pain and damage to other teeth. In most cases, these teeth need to be extracted, even if they are not causing problems now.
Crowding is one of the most common problems associated with wisdom teeth. Because they take so many years to cut through the gum tissue, there may not be enough room for them to emerge correctly.
As the wisdom teeth erupt, they can cause other teeth to shift out of their normal positions. This overcrowding causes the teeth to become crooked, making them harder to clean and more prone to the development of decay. It is important individuals take care to brush and floss as often as recommended. They should also see their dentist often for teeth cleaning services.
Wisdom tooth infections can also occur. When a wisdom tooth becomes infected, it can cause multiple symptoms, including the following.
- Swelling in the gum tissue
- Redness and inflammation in the gums
- Pus drainage coming from the gums
- Sore and swollen lymph nodes under the jaw
- Problems with opening the mouth fully or swallowing
- Foul breath
A wisdom tooth abscess needs to be treated right away. This infection can spread to other teeth and may even get into the bloodstream. In some cases, the infection becomes so severe the wisdom teeth must be extracted immediately.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Infections Treated?
Wisdom teeth are more prone to developing infections as they start to emerge through the gum tissue. Infections can also happen due to poor oral hygiene. The following are some of the ways these infections can be brought under control.
- Improved oral hygiene is a must when it comes to wisdom tooth infections. Brushing and flossing carefully in these areas will help to remove plaque and food particles, along with bacteria.
- The area should also be cleaned by the dentist. They have special tools that can be used to get into the cracks and crevices of these teeth, so they can be carefully cleaned. They will also treat the teeth locally with topical medications.
- Individuals who have a wisdom tooth infection will need to take antibiotics for the full length of treatment. It is important to finish the full course of antibiotics, even if the infection begins to improve.
When wisdom tooth infections are becoming frequent, individuals may need to undergo an extraction. Removing the wisdom teeth will offer more room for other teeth and will prevent the issues that revolve around cleaning difficulty.
Treatment for Wisdom Teeth Issues
The most common treatment for wisdom teeth issues is removal. This procedure is generally done in a dental office or by a dental surgeon.
Individuals are either given a local or general anesthetic, depending on how many teeth are being removed. Most dentists will remove all four wisdom teeth at one time, depending on the patient.
Today, wisdom tooth problems have been greatly reduced because most dentists will recommend patients have these teeth removed before they ever have a chance to cause problems.
The procedure is simple for erupted wisdom teeth but does become a little more difficult with impaction. With both types of extraction, the recovery process is easy, and most people have no recovery problems, with only minor discomfort.
Schedule a Wisdom Tooth Appointment
If you have noticed problems with your wisdom teeth, such as overcrowding, pain, or infection, now is the time to seek treatment. When wisdom teeth become problematic, they need to be extracted right away so they do not become infected or begin to damage other teeth.
Those who are concerned about their wisdom teeth should call today and schedule an appointment. The dentist will examine the teeth and take X-rays, to determine the best course of action. With wisdom teeth treatment, your oral health will be protected and you will be less likely to experience overcrowding and other problems.