What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Nearly 5 million Americans have had their wisdom teeth removed, resulting in a yearly expense of $3 billion.

Are you one of the patients who has undergone this surgery? If so, your dentist more than likely removed them because they were disrupting the health of the rest of your teeth. Because our wisdom teeth are the last of our adult teeth to develop, they are usually taken out during our teens and young adulthood. Sometimes, a person’s wisdom teeth develop without any troubles. For others, dental problems and painful symptoms accompany the development of these teeth.

Wisdom teeth can be partially or fully impacted. A partially impacted wisdom tooth means that only a small amount of the crown is visible, and a fully impacted wisdom tooth means that it has failed to emerge through the gums. They don’t always grow in straight, either. Wisdom teeth have been known to grow in at angles, backward, and even upside down.
Conditions Created by Wisdom Teeth

Third molars —also known as impacted wisdom teeth— erupt at the back of the mouth and grow abnormally because there is no room for them to develop. In some cases the third molars do not cause any painful side effects; regardless, since these teeth are more challenging to clean, they tend to be more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay compared to the rest of the teeth. Oral surgeons will always remove impacted wisdom teeth that are causing problems for the patient, and they will also suggest removing the wisdom teeth that aren’t currently causing pain under the precaution that there will be concerns in the future.

So what sorts of pain are related with impacted wisdom teeth? Here’s a list of some symptoms you might suffer from:

▪ Painful gums that bleed or swell
▪ Swelling and pain at the jaw
▪ Complications opening the mouth
▪ Bad breath

When wisdom teeth grow in, they can cause additional harm to the surrounding teeth. Orthodontic treatment methods might be recommended if the incoming wisdom teeth press the other molars forward, creating overcrowding. There is a chance of a tumor forming in the mouth– though it is uncommon– and this happens because the wisdom tooth can develop in a fluid-filled sac inside the jawbone, making a cyst. When this happens, the oral surgeon might just have to extract the neighboring bone and tissue. Again, wisdom teeth are difficult to maintain because they live in the back of the mouth. Along with tooth decay, patients are possibly at risk of an inflammatory gum disease referred to as pericoronitis for these same reasons.

A Model Treatment

The oral surgeon will get rid of all four wisdom teeth all at once, or they might prefer to do a few teeth at a time depending upon their or the patient’s desires. The patient will undergo general anesthesia to reduce the amount of irritation they might feel during the operation. This process can last anywhere from one to several hours depending on how many teeth are being extracted. Some of the most common negative side effects of wisdom teeth removal are swelling and bleeding. These can typically be managed at home with gauze and ice packs, but if these side effects continue, it is practical to seek out the performing surgeon for advice.

Arguments Against Wisdom Tooth Extraction

A number of people argue that removing wisdom teeth is unnecessary and is actually a way for dentists to bill considerable amounts of money to their patients. Jay W. Friedman, DDS, MPH, has published an article examining this perspective and the beliefs that go along with the eruption of wisdom teeth in young patients. The choice to move ahead with wisdom teeth removal or to decide against it is effectively up to the patient. Of course, we recommend that our patients make an educated assessment of their pain and to speak with Dr. Levine for advice when it pertains to determining the degree of impaction.

Concerned patients or those who are due for a routine exam can schedule an appointment online or call Olney Dental Center at (301)774-3800.

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