WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?
“Wisdom teeth” is the common name for the Third Molars at the very back of the mouth. They generally come through or show signs of erupting in your late teens or early 20’s, but are the most unpredictable of all teeth. They often erupt without problems, but if they have insufficient space they are known as Impacted and therefore fail to fully erupt into the mouth.
Sometimes they only have room to partially erupt, often leading to gum problems-pericorinitis. They may also cause damage to the Second Molar that they are stuck behind.
Wisdom teeth are believed to have evolved to help our ancient ancestors with their rough, course diets that required a lot of chewing and grinding.
As humans have evolved our jaws are smaller and our diets softer and so the Wisdom teeth no longer fit or are required. As we have evolved, 15-20% of the population are now missing at least one wisdom tooth and sometimes all four.
SYMPTOMS OF ERUPTING WISDOM TEETH
Not everyone suffers symptoms from their wisdom teeth erupting into the mouth, some can actually erupt painlessly and in alignment with the other teeth.
Symptoms if they occur include-
- Sore, red, inflamed and tender gums
- Aching at the back of the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth/swallowing
- Bad breath
WHY DO WISDOM TEETH NEED TO BE REMOVED?
Your wisdom teeth may need to be removed if you are experiencing pain, the area is difficult to keep clean, the tooth is causing damage to adjacent teeth or the tooth has over erupted due to no matching tooth in the other arch.
WHY HAS MY ORTHODONTIST SUGGESTED WISDOM TEETH BE REMOVED?
X-Rays or Radiographs taken during Orthodontic treatment will indicate to the Orthodontist if she thinks that your wisdom teeth will be problematic at a later stage.
Your Orthodontist will usually refer you to an Oral Surgeon about 12-18 months after your active treatment for an opinion on Wisdom teeth before they become problematic. The main reason of early intervention is that these teeth are easier to remove when not fully formed, and recovery is a lot quicker.
Some say that the pushing from the wisdom teeth will make your teeth become crowded, losing the great work achieved by you and your Orthodontist. Even though there is some truth in this, the main reason for tooth movement and unfortunate relapse of the teeth is NOT WEARING YOUR RETAINERS AS PRESCRIBED!
If you have any concerns regarding wisdom teeth and possible movement of your teeth, please discuss this with your Orthodontist.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MY WISDOM TEETH ARE REMOVED?
If the wisdom teeth have started to erupt they can often be removed with Local Anesthetic at your General Dentist.
A great majority of wisdom teeth, especially those that are unerupted, are removed in hospital by an Oral Surgeon whilst you are asleep, under a General Anesthetic. This is usually a day procedure. Your surgeon may suggest Ice, pain killers and sometimes Antibiotics after the surgery. Recovery is most often a few days off school or work with a soft diet and a cleaning regime to keep the extraction sites clean and free of food. You should expect a little swelling and bruising of the face, jaws and even eye area. Your surgeon will monitor your healing after a week.