Wisdom teeth are vestigial teeth that were used by our human ancestors for grinding down tough plant tissue. Since then human diets have undergone a good deal of change along with smaller jaws. However third molars or ‘ wisdom teeth’ still develop.
Wisdom teeth usually emerge in the mouth around the age of 17-21. These teeth, being among the last to emerge in the mouth are more susceptible to becoming ‘impacted’. Teeth are impacted when they don’t emerge or emerge only part way through the gums at the expected time. Wisdom teeth may become impacted if the tooth is turned to the side, tilted or grows out in an incorrect position in the jaw. This may also happen when there is insufficient space in the jaw or mouth for the tooth to emerge.
The impacted tooth is generally painless. You might not even realize that there is a problem. However when the partially emerged tooth tries to erupt, it may lead to a swelling of the overlying gums causing pain. A partially erupted tooth may collect food particles and other substances which eventually give rise to infection called pericoronitis. If left unchecked this infection may spread to the other teeth, throat or neck. Here are a few wise ways to take care of your wisdom teeth.
Oral Hygiene Matters
While there is no way to prevent wisdom teeth from being impacted, a strict oral hygiene routine can reduce the risk of infection to a great extent. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing and using jet water sprays can help keep your teeth healthy.
1) Look out for the symptoms that indicate a problem.
2) Swelling of the gums in the back of the mouth.
3) Pain while chewing and biting food.
4) Bad breath
5) Irritation or difficulty while opening the mouth.
Sometimes you can relieve irritation by thoroughly rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. It can reduce inflammation and soothe the pain. Visit your dentist regularly. He or she will be able to tell you whether you need to get your teeth extracted. Since an impacted tooth can cause problems to your other teeth, call your dentist is any pain is felt in your molar teeth and if your wisdom teeth haven’t come in yet. The dentist will examine the area and take X-rays if necessary.
It is best to have your wisdom teeth extracted before the age of 21. Generally the dentist might recommend removing all four of your wisdom teeth to prevent problems down the road. If the impacted tooth isn’t causing pain or harming the surrounding teeth, immediate extraction is not necessary. However extraction is recommended in order to avoid problems later on.