Wisdom teeth or 3rd molars, are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth, usually in a person’s late teens or early twenties.
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties.
Whilst it is possible for them to come through into the mouth and become useful, healthy teeth, for most individuals they become impacted and need to be removed.
Wisdom Teeth become "impacted" when they are are unable to fully erupt into the mouth. This is usually because there is not enough space in the jaws to accommodate all of the adult teeth.
Wisdom Teeth growing on an angle are also prevented from erupting into the mouth. This is most often seen where Wisdom Teeth are leaning towards the teeth in front, although it is possible for Wisdom Teeth to lean in any direction.
An impacted tooth can stay painless for a long time, and you may not even realise it is there. Wisdom Teeth assessment is an important part of any dental check-up, since impacted Wisdom Teeth do not always produce symptoms.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth can cause the following symptoms...
- Pain & discomfort
- Swollen & bleeding gums at the back of the mouth
- Bad breath or an unpleasant taste
- Headache or jaw tenderness
- Stiffness of the neck
- Swollen lymph glands
We recommend seeking a professional opinion if you develop symptoms consistent with Wisdom Teeth pain. This gives you the opportunity to have your treatment options discussed, so you can make the choice that is best for you.
Here are some examples
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause the destruction of the molar teeth in front of them. The tight space around an impacted wisdom tooth is almost impossible to keep free of bacteria and food debris.
What you think is pain from you wisdom teeth, can often be the irreversible decay and infection of the molar teeth in front, requiring these teeth to be removed as well.
The presence of impacted 3rd molars in the lower jaw significantly increases the risk of jaw fracture. This is likely due to the 3rd molars occupying an area of the jaw that would normally be filled with dense bone.
The decreased volume of bone in the angle of the jaw reduces its structural integrity, making it more prone to fracture.
The roots holding our teeth in our jaws are the last parts of the wisdom teeth to form. Removing impacted wisdom teeth before the roots develop make it a less complicated procedure with less risks.
Impacted wisdom teeth that aren't removed in late teens or early twenties will continue to develop roots, which often grow down and around the nerve running through the lower jaw.
Removing wisdom teeth at this stage has a higher potential complication rate due to the close proximity of the roots to the nerve, and definitely warrants treatment by a maxillofacial specialist.
‘Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.’