For most people between the ages of 16 and 25, a third set of molars starts coming out in the back of the mouth. These molars, called wisdom teeth, are not necessarily bad things in and of themselves. The problem with these teeth usually stem from the effects they can have on other teeth and structures within the mouth.
Late and Early Detection
Some signs that indicate when it may be time to get your wisdom teeth extracted include swelling and pain at the back of your mouth, decay of your wisdom teeth, or signs that they have come in crooked or only partially.
Unfortunately, these indicators are usually late warning signs, so it is usually best to have your mouth monitored by a dentist in order to detect problems before they become painful. For example, Dr. Lynn will regularly x-ray patients’ mouths to examine their wisdom teeth as they form and come out. This allows him to determine whether they should be extracted before they come in.
Reasons for Extraction
Determining the potential problems that a wisdom tooth may present is important to preventing various oral health issues. A number of possible issues that may develop from wisdom teeth include the following:
- Impacted teeth: An impacted wisdom tooth is one that is trapped inside the jawbone or gums, potentially causing pain in the back of the mouth. If it only partially erupts, it can also form a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to infection, swelling, stiffness, and other issues.
- Crowding: Sometimes a wisdom tooth may be one tooth too many for your mouth to hold. As it crowds other teeth, it can make them harder to clean and put them under undue stress. Crowded teeth can also negatively affect the appearance of your smile.
- Bad angle: A tooth that comes out at an odd angle won’t function the way it needs to. It may get in the way of a bite, press against other teeth (putting stress on them), and be unable to endure the kind of pressure present when chewing and biting. This can lead to tooth fractures, infection, and other problems in the mouth. A wisdom tooth can grow angled out, in, against other teeth, and even horizontally.
- Tooth decay: Sometimes wisdom teeth are simply hygienically awkward. Given their position at the very back of the mouth, they can be difficult to brush and floss properly, leading to obvious dental health risks. If cavities or gum disease starts to develop around a wisdom tooth, then extraction may be the best course of action.
By carefully monitoring tooth growth through routine visits, it is very easy to prevent any of these issues from taking place. If it seems that a wisdom tooth might be impacted, angled wrongly, or a cause for some other concern, it can save a lot of pain to get it taken out promptly.