Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are so called because they appear in the mouth between the ages of 17-25 years when a person has matured. They are the very last teeth in the mouth to erupt and due to the lack of space in the jaw can become lodged or “impacted” against the tooth in front.

This can be problematic and the offending tooth may have to be removed for the following reasons:

  • Decay: Plaque can easily gather in the inaccessible area between the teeth leading to tooth decay.
  • Pericoronitis: This is a painful condition caused by an infection in the gum surrounding the erupting tooth.
  • Periodontal disease: Due to difficulty in brushing and flossing around the third molar, food and plaque accumulate in this area. This can lead to gum disease, which can eventually cause the loss of not only the wisdom, but also the adjacent tooth.
  • Orthodontics: It is recommended that wisdom teeth be removed after orthodontic treatment, in order to prevent further shifting of the teeth due to pressure.
  • Cyst: The retention of wisdom teeth can sometimes lead to cyst formation. Although the condition is uncommon it should be monitored by means of regular X-rays.

As with any surgery, it is important to fully understand the complications that may arise. While bleeding is controlled prior to you leaving the office you must continue to clamp down tightly on the packing, applying pressure on the area. Bruising can occur and usually appears after 24 hours. Some patients may experience swelling especially after lower wisdom teeth removal. In rare instances there may be some numbness of the lower lip and the tongue due to bruising of the nerve that supplies the sensation to these areas.

Generally, the easier it is to remove wisdom teeth the lesser the complications. Overall, general health and habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also have impact on the healing of an extraction site.