Adults have three sets of molars. The first set emerges around the age of six. The second emerges around the age of 12. The third set, more commonly known as the wisdom teeth, arrive somewhere between the late teens and early 20s. The wisdom teeth are the last to erupt, and the most likely to become impacted, which can cause a whole host of oral health problems, and a significant amount of pain. At Stamford Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Arts, we can help to restore the health, alleviating the pain caused by impacted wisdom teeth, with wisdom tooth extraction.
A Brief History of Wisdom Teeth
Thousands of years ago, the wisdom teeth had a very important job. The wisdom teeth were crucial for chewing through the variety of course foods that made up their diet. Moreover, back then, the jaw was larger and able to comfortably accommodate them. However, with the development of cooking, the number of course foods that made up the human diet decreased. Eventually, the jaw started to become smaller as the wisdom teeth became obsolete. They continue to develop. They are considered "vestigial organs" by anthropologists.
Effects of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Not every person has problems with their wisdom teeth. For some people, the wisdom teeth erupt just like any of your other teeth. They are properly aligned and can stay in the mouth without any need for extraction. However, this is only a small percentage of people. For most people, the wisdom teeth become impacted. Impacted teeth are those that cannot properly erupt through the gum tissue. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a variety of different issues:
|Pericornitis. In some instances, your teeth may only partially erupt through the gum tissue. When this happens, a pocket can form. A partially erupted wisdom tooth can trap food, bacteria, and plaque, and this space is not easily cleaned. As a result, you can develop a localized infection (pericornitis). You may experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, stiffness, nausea, and fever.
|Overcrowding. If your wisdom teeth do start to emerge, and you do not have sufficient space to accommodate them, they can put pressure on your adjacent teeth. This can then cause your teeth to be pushed out of their natural alignment. This throws off your bite (which can undo any orthodontic work you have had done in the past), which can lead to several issues, including bruxism, uneven (or excessive) tooth wear, jaw pain, and an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
|Tooth damage. In some instances, your teeth may develop at an angle, pointing toward your already existing teeth. As they continue to develop, they can damage your adjacent teeth, causing fractures. The damage can allow bacteria into the teeth, leading to an infection. When the damage is below the gum line, it cannot be fixed with a crown.
|Cysts. Cysts are sacs (which are filled with fluid, semifluid, or gas) that form as a result of impacted teeth. The longer cysts go untreated, the more they grow, and they can cause serious damage to your jawbone. If the damage is severe, you may require a bone graft or jaw surgery.
How are Impacted Wisdom Teeth Diagnosed?
If you suspect your wisdom teeth are impacted, it is important to schedule an exam as soon as possible. If the pain you are experiencing is, indeed, from impacted wisdom teeth, it will only grow worse over time and cause serious problems. During your exam, we look at the condition of your gum tissue, checking for redness and swelling (signs of an infection). We will also take a panoramic radiograph (X-ray) of your mouth, so we can assess the condition of your jawbone, and determine any damage under the gum line). If we determine that your wisdom teeth be impacted, we will make a customized treatment plan to extract them.
Extracting Your Wisdom Teeth
The earlier your impacted wisdom teeth are treated, the less likely you are to face complications following surgery. There are two types of extractions – simple and surgical. When it comes to impacted wisdom teeth, surgical extractions are more likely to be used. Surgery is done under sedation, which will allow you to remain calm and comfortable during the procedure. We make incisions in the gum tissue, which exposes the wisdom teeth and the jawbone. We then remove the tooth. In some cases, we may need to also remove a small amount of bone, while in other cases, we may need to break the tooth and remove it in segments. When finished, the sockets are cleaned and your gums sewn closed. Our oral surgeons are highly trained and have a significant amount of experience. We take the time to discuss the extraction process with you and help you to understand the potential risks. If we have recommended extraction, it is because we believe it is the best course of action for your oral health.
If your wisdom teeth are causing you pain, extracting them can greatly help to alleviate your discomfort, restore the health of your mouth, and prevent serious oral health complications from occurring. If you suspect a problem with your wisdom teeth, contact Stamford Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Arts today at (203) 325-2661!