Adults can have up to 32 teeth. The wisdom teeth are the large molars at the end of each line of teeth (there is one wisdom tooth at the end of each row, 4 in total).
Wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to develop. They appear in the mouth between the ages of 18-24 years and may develop in the jaw but never erupt or appear in the mouth. Sometimes they appear many years later.
The most common problem associated with wisdom teeth is called Pericoronitis . The way pericoronitis develops is as follows:
If part of the wisdom tooth has appeared through the gum and part of it is still covered, the gum may become sore and swollen. Food particles and bacteria can collect under the gum edge, and it will be difficult to clean the area effectively. This is only a temporary problem that can be dealt with by using mouthwashes and special cleaning methods and possibly antibiotics. If the problem keeps coming back, it may be better to have the tooth removed here at Lighthouse Dental Practice in Ipswich.
Common symptoms associated with pericoronitis and half-impacted wisdom teeth are:
- Vague ill-defined pain around the back of the mouth and cheek on the affected side
- Pain and swelling overlying the wisdom tooth, sometimes associated with a
- bad taste or an unpleasant taste in the mouth or
- discharge of liquid or pus
- Limited mouth opening
If the pain does not go away or if you find it difficult to open your mouth, you should come and see a dentist. The dentist will usually take x-rays to see the position of the root, and to assess whether there is room for the tooth to come through into a useful position.
Everything depends on the position and the shape of the roots. Your dentist will tell you how easy or difficult each tooth will be to remove after looking at the x-rays. Upper wisdom teeth are often easier to remove than lower ones, which are more likely to be impacted. Your dentist will say whether the tooth should be taken out at the dental practice, or whether you should be referred to an oral surgeon at a hospital.
Reasons for wisdom teeth to be removed:
- Pericoronitis as described above
- Tooth decay (the classic hole in the tooth, rotten teeth) also called caries
- Food impaction between the wisdom tooth and the tooth in front causing decay in either the wisdom tooth itself or the tooth in front (usually this would be the lower 7 - meaning the lower 7th tooth in the jaw on either the left or right side, also called the lower second molar)
- Damage – root resorption- to the tooth in front (Lower 7) when the wisdom tooth has erupted in a forward position and is pushing on the roots or crown of the tooth in front.
- Damage to the bone or soft tissue due to cysts or tumours associated with the wisdom tooth or nearby structures or tissues.