Wisdom Teeth


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Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of teeth that you will have in life. They tend to erupt when you are in your late teens or early twenties. Studies have indicated that having insufficient room for your wisdom teeth to erupt is a very common problem and can cause several problems with oral health. Scientists think that wisdom teeth are a left over trait from when humans ate a highly abrasive diet which often caused tooth loss and reduced the size of molars. Our modern diets involve a lot of processed foods and these cause much less wear than our ancestor’s diet. This, coupled with the innovations in dentistry mean that we retain our teeth for much longer and problems which result in the loss of teeth are greatly reduced.

When your wisdom teeth are poorly aligned, a number of potential problems can occur. Whether the wisdom teeth are positioned horizontally, angled toward the wrong direction or just have generally poor alignment, a number of problems can be caused such as gaps, crowding and damage to nearby teeth. In more severe cases, 'impacted' wisdom teeth can cause problems with the jawbone and nerves. Similarly, if your teeth lean forward too much, they are more vulnerable to tooth decay and dental plaque build-up. If you develop an infection a number of unpleasant symptoms may occur, such as swelling, stiffness in the jaw and pain.

Treatment for Wisdom Teeth

You will only need to treat your 'impacted' wisdom tooth if it is causing you serious dental problems. It is commonly advised that impacted teeth which aren't causing problems should be allowed to remain. If your 'impacted' teeth are causing problems, then the first line of defence is antibiotics, which often provide temporary relief. In cases where 'impacted' teeth are causing the patient pain, then the surrounding gum tissue can be cut back in a surgical procedure. However, the most common method for dealing with 'impacted' teeth is to have them extracted surgically.

Wisdom Teeth Extraction

The extraction process can be carried out under either local or general anaesthetics. Your dentist will begin by applying the anaesthetic. If using a local anaesthetic, a numbing gel is first applied before the anaesthetic itself is injected. The procedure begins with a small incision made into the gum which is directly above the wisdom tooth. This is not required if the tooth is fully or partially emerged. Following this, a small piece of bone covering the tooth is removed and the remaining parts are broken into smaller sections to enable easy extraction. After the tooth is completely extracted, any incisions are then sutured, usually with dissolvable stitches.

Risks of Wisdom Teeth Extractions

Wisdom teeth extraction is a tried and tested dental procedure; however there are still some risks involved. One potential complication is the loss of the blood clot which forms over the wound. If this occurs, the nerves and bones are exposed to air and fluids. Fortunately, this is easily treated using a special dressing throughout the healing process. Accidental damage may occur to the nerves or teeth which are near the tooth's roots, resulting in a temporary sensation of numbness.


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