The wisdom tooth is also called “third molar” in technical terms. The process when the tooth appears in the mouth is called “tooth eruption”. Wisdom teeth are generally the last teeth to erupt in a person’s mouth. Most commonly a person has four wisdom teeth. The timing of the eruption of the wisdom tooth is between 17 to 25 years of age.
The growth of the jaw and the wisdom teeth do not occur simultaneously. Jaw growth completes earlier than the eruption of wisdom tooth. Thus the wisdom tooth may or may not have enough space to appear in the mouth. If space is enough the teeth will erupt normally and it will not cause problems like pain and discomfort.
However, if there is not enough space, it can be discomforting. The shape of wisdom teeth is different from the rest and is generally crooked. When the wisdom teeth start erupting, they start pushing the neighboring teeth. This can cause various problems like tooth decay and movement to the neighboring teeth. The gum can become red and painful due to bacterial infection around the wisdom tooth. This is known as “pericoronitis”. This can further lead to pus formation in the areas around the wisdom tooth. There is a pain, difficulty in eating, talking and moving the jaw in such situations. It can also cause swelling of the check and mouth leading to difficulty in opening the mouth.
If the wisdom tooth is crooked or has appeared halfway, the toothbrush cannot reach it and the tooth cannot be cleaned properly. This will cause food particles to accumulate around the tooth and cause decay. Decayed teeth can cause infections in the jaw. It is very common for wisdom tooth infections to spread to cheeks, ear, eye, and throat. The pain can be felt in all these areas. Five out of 10 decayed wisdom teeth are known to cause such infections. If such an infection is neglected it can cause swelling in the throat area and put pressure on the windpipe, potentially resulting in suffocation and even death. There many cases which have resulted in death due to neglected and untreated wisdom teeth.
In order to prevent these complications, it is important to take care when wisdom teeth erupt. Even if your wisdom tooth is causing mild problems, you should get it checked by your dentist or oral surgeon. The patients should be aware of the complications and the solutions available for treatment. Removal of the wisdom teeth is most accepted and recommended treatment given when they can be crooked or severely decayed.
The removal of this wisdom tooth is a simple and painless procedure. The dentist or oral surgeon will take an x-ray of the teeth and jaw to assess the situation. The x-ray will also show the position of the wisdom tooth which is causing the pain. The dentist will also assess the overall health of the patient. Once this is done, he/she will schedule an appointment for tooth removal. The wisdom tooth is removed under anesthesia to make sure that it is completely painless. The dentist will also provide painkiller medication to minimize pain after tooth removal. Wisdom tooth removal typically does not have any side effects and will prevent further complications.