Wisdom teeth are increasingly becoming a modern-day coming of age symbol for young adults. Some people’s wisdom teeth will not cause them a single problem, whilst others will experience pain, discomfort, and possibly infection.
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come-in (hence the name) and are located at the back of the mouth, behind the second molars, on both sides of the upper and lower jaw. Often referred to as the ‘third molars’ by dentists, these teeth usually emerge between the ages of 17 and 21. Although wisdom teeth can sometimes come-in with no problems, most people will experience at least one impacted tooth.
Impacted wisdom teeth occur when the teeth are trapped beneath the gum and bone, and against the teeth in front. When your dentist assesses your wisdom teeth they will commonly describe the angle of your wisdom tooth’s impaction using the following:
There are also three types of wisdom tooth impactions:
Wisdom teeth that experience impactions do not always show signs and symptoms (meaning regular dental appointments will be important to identify any problems early). Symptoms that do arise are predominately the result of the gum on top of the tooth becoming infected or swollen. This is termed ‘pericoronitis’.
Some of the common symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include:
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, or any other discomfort around your wisdom teeth, it is recommended you book a consult with your dentist to gain a greater understanding of the situation.
|Interesting fact: Leaving impacted wisdom teeth untreated can result in serious oral health problems including gum disease, tooth decay, or damage to other teeth due to infection and overcrowding..|
Treating an impacted wisdom tooth usually involves removing the tooth.
Although this doesn’t sound like fun, this procedure may be performed using general or local anaesthesia depending on the individual case. Extraction of a tooth can take from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on their position.
Post-extraction, people can expect to experience some pain, swelling, and tenderness in the face and neck, whilst bruising is also a possibility.
Whilst there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to recovering, here are some recommendations for staying comfortable whilst healing:
|Interesting fact: Whilst these are common recommendations for recovery, the most important thing to remember is to listen and follow your dentist’s instructions.|