If you are experiencing sharp pains at the back of your mouth, chances are your wisdom teeth are coming in. Unlike your other teeth, wisdom teeth can develop in unhealthy ways that cause pain and even oral hygienic problems. To prevent further such issues and to ensure long-term dental health, dentists recommend removing your wisdom teeth.
This article explains what wisdom teeth are and how they can affect your mouth, when to schedule a dentist appointment, and why wisdom teeth need to be removed.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Between the ages of 17–21, some people develop a third set of molars located at the very back of the top and bottom of their jaw. These third sets of molars are your wisdom teeth.
While essential for the uncooked diets of early humans, wisdom teeth serve no functional purpose today, as humans have evolved beyond the need for them. However, over 53% of people still have at least one wisdom tooth come in.
Wisdom teeth aren’t always visible to the naked eye. Sometimes, you’ll need an X-ray to see them nestled below your gums or impacted against other teeth. Although, irrespective of their visibility, these teeth can cause various problems to your dental hygiene and overall health.
When to Visit Your Dentist?
You don’t need to worry about your wisdom teeth if they have fully erupted, are positioned correctly, and you’re able to cleanse them during your daily dental hygiene practices.
However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible.
- Severe pain at the back of your mouth.
- Extensive tooth decay in neighboring teeth.
- Repetitive gum & tissue infections in areas surrounding the last teeth.
- Gum inflammation or diseases.
- Severe jaw pain that makes it difficult to open your mouth.
- Cysts or tumors under your gums.
A dentist will perform a thorough evaluation of your teeth and advise you on whether you need to get rid of your wisdom teeth. They usually recommend initial wisdom teeth evaluations between the ages of 16 to 19 as some consider it safer to remove wisdom teeth before they start to cause problems.
As you grow older, your dental bones become harder, making it difficult for tooth extraction. So the sooner you get your wisdom teeth checked out, the better.
Why Remove Your Wisdom Teeth?
Removing your wisdom teeth is almost a rite of passage for young adults. However, as mentioned earlier, it isn’t always necessary.
Some people live their entire lives without having their wisdom teeth come in, and experience no dental issues. But just because your wisdom teeth don’t cause any apparent physical discomfort doesn’t mean that everything is okay. Your teeth could be impacted or stuck inside your jaw. Or they could be partially erupted within your mouth and attract bacteria. They can even grow at odd angles and affect the alignment of your teeth.
The problems listed above can cause severe damage to your mouth, teeth, and jaw. They are some of the reasons why getting rid of your wisdom tooth is crucial and beneficial in the long run.
Wisdom teeth don’t always emerge as easily or quickly as your other teeth. The human mouth doesn’t always have the space to accommodate wisdom teeth, so in most cases, they never erupt and remain trapped in your jaw for a long time. We refer to these teeth as impacted or stuck teeth.
As you age, your bones grow stronger, making it more difficult for the teeth to break the surface of your gums and fully emerge into your mouth. This type of impacted growth can cause severe pain and irritation and inflame your gums. In addition, impacted teeth attract bacteria, causing infections that harm the roots and bones of neighboring teeth.
Impacted teeth don’t always cause tooth troubles, but it’s always safer to get them checked out. When you feel your wisdom teeth coming in, visit your dentist right away!
Partially erupted wisdom teeth can cause as much damage to the rest of your teeth as impacted teeth. With a partially-erupted tooth, you may experience inflamed gums, irritation, and severe jaw pain. The areas surrounding these teeth can grow sensitive and cause shooting pains when food settles over them. The sensitivity also makes it difficult to clean around the teeth.
Unclean teeth attract bacteria, gum diseases, and other oral infections, which in turn cause damage to the rest of your teeth. Leaving a partially erupted wisdom tooth untreated can lead to cavities and extreme tooth decay.
Consult a dentist if you notice swollen gums, cysts, or any signs of decay at the back of your mouth.
Overcrowding & Misalignment
Sometimes, depending on the size of your jaw, wisdom teeth erupt completely and take up too much space in your mouth. A fully grown wisdom tooth in an overcrowded mouth is unhealthy for the rest of your teeth. Not only will the new teeth have no space to grow and adjust appropriately, but it can also cause misalignment problems that medical procedures cannot correct.
Wisdom teeth can also grow crooked or sideways into an overcrowded mouth, leading to tooth misalignment. When all your teeth don’t fit together right, they lose their functionality and affect the shape of your jaw and mouth.
If more than one wisdom tooth erupts, but only some of them cause overcrowding, a dentist will determine which teeth to remove and which ones to leave alone.
There is not much you can do about your wisdom teeth and their growth. You can, however, schedule regular appointments with a dentist to ensure that everything inside your mouth is as it should be.
If you’re looking for dental experts in Coralville, Iowa, get in touch with us. The Family Dental Center team is friendly and well-qualified to solve all your issues regarding your wisdom teeth. We dedicate ourselves to ensuring your overall oral health. Take a look at our patient resources to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you achieve the results you desire!