Wisdom teeth, also known as the third molars, are the teeth furthest back in the mouth. They are the last teeth to erupt. It is typical for wisdom teeth to start to emerge when a person enters their late teenage years or early 20s, though some people do not have them or only have a few.
The reason wisdom teeth receive so much attention compared to other teeth is that they often cause issues due to a lack of space. This is why many people comment on the irony of the name ‘wisdom tooth’ for a tooth that may cause people pain and discomfort.
Reasons for removing wisdom teeth.
A person whose wisdom teeth are emerging will often be able to tell that they are erupting because they can feel the tooth sticking through the gum at the back of the mouth or feel discomfort towards the back of the mouth.
However, it may require a dentist with specialist knowledge and equipment, to assess what needs to be done with wisdom teeth. Not everyone whose wisdom teeth are erupting may experience discomfort or pain at the start. The removal of wisdom teeth may therefore be a pre-emptive procedure that limits complications in the future.
Reasons to remove wisdom teeth may include:
- The wisdom tooth is ‘impacted’ meaning it has hit surrounding teeth or bone and cannot emerge further. The result may be that a flap of gum sits over the half-emerged tooth. This can be prone to infection.
- The wisdom teeth may grow too far or ‘over erupt’ and result in damage to the gums or to the sensitive cheeks.
- The wisdom teeth may be likely to impact or interfere with nerves in the future.
- The wisdom teeth may be impossible to clean properly, increasing the risk of decay and damage.
- The wisdom teeth may lead to the development of a cyst.
- The wisdom teeth may interfere with the jaw or the ability to move the jaw in the required way.
Your dentist will be able to assess whether your teeth will be impacted or whether they can ‘peacefully’ erupt without any issues – which does happen for some lucky patients.
What to do about your erupting wisdom teeth
If you suspect you have erupting wisdom teeth or if you can feel your wisdom teeth emerging, then your best bet is to arrange an appointment with your dentist.
They will be able to undertake an oral exam and conduct scans to determine what needs to be done with your teeth and can undertake the wisdom teeth removal procedure in the clinic while you are sedated.