The Mystery Behind Wisdom Teeth

Happening Issue 72 Jul, 2010

What is the wisdom behind the wisdom teeth?
Confusion arises in patients about their wisdom teeth. Some tell me that they just got their wisdom tooth when they were forty. Others worry when I tell them its best to take it out. Worst is when some people hear that their special teeth are connected to their brain or to their eyes.

What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the upper and lower third molars, located at the very back of the mouth. They are named so, as they usually come when a person is between 17 and 21 years or older—old enough to have gained some ‘wisdom.’  Healthy and properly positioned wisdom teeth do not cause problems.

What causes problems with wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth may break partway through your gums, causing a flap of gum tissue to grow over them trapping food, developing a gum infection. Wisdom teeth can also come crooked or facing the wrong direction. Or, if your jaw is not large enough to give them room, they are unable to break through your gums. It is troublesome to clean wisdom teeth because they are so far in the back of your mouth and may be crowded.

What are the symptoms of wisdom tooth problems?
Wisdom teeth often cause no symptoms. Few symptoms that arises are:
Pain or jaw stiffness near an impacted tooth. Pain or irritation from a tooth arising from an awkward angle and rubbing against your cheek, tongue, top or bottom of the mouth. An infected swelling in the flap of gum tissue, formed on top of an impacted tooth. Crowding of other teeth. Tooth decay or gum disease if there is not enough room to properly care for the wisdom and surrounding teeth. Most problems with wisdom teeth develop between the ages of 15 and 25. Few people older than 30 develop problems that require removal of their wisdom teeth.

How are problems with wisdom teeth diagnosed?
Teeth and gums are examined for signs of a wisdom tooth coming through  gum or other crowding  teeth.X-rays are taken to analyze if wisdom teeth are causing problems now or likely to, in the future.

What is the treatment for wisdom tooth problems?
The most common treatment for wisdom tooth problems is removal (extraction). Experts disagree on removal of painless wisdom tooth. Oral surgeons generally agree that removing a wisdom tooth is easier in younger people (in their early 20s), when the tooth’s roots and the jawbone are not completely developed. From the late 20s onward, the jawbone tends to get harder, and healing generally takes longer.

Do not be scared when you hear your wisdom teeth needs to be removed. And, remember – these teeth not connected to any other part of your body. It is best to have them removed before you reach Hawaii on your holiday…

Advanced Dental Care,
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