What are wisdom teeth and why do they often cause problems?

December 17, 2019

You have probably heard of or experienced your own problems with wisdom teeth, and wondered what these are exactly, and why they are often problematic. Wisdom teeth, is a colloquial term that is used to describe the last set of molars that grow into the jaw during late adolescence and into early adulthood. These are actually the last set of permanent teeth that come into the jaw.

The problem is that theseteeth often grow in at a strange angle and are misaligned. This becomes a difficulty that requires the extraction of the teeth. In fact, in some people, the wisdom teeth grow in horizontally, which makes them useless in terms of functioning as teeth. The other issue that is associated with misalignment is that these teeth may press on nerves or bump and grind against other teeth in your jaw. This can lead to problems like breaking and chipping of your other teeth, and also can cause pain from where these molars are pushing on nerves in the mouth. A further challenge is that the teeth are often hard to clean depending on where they are positioned and how they are aligned, which increases the chances of tooth decay.

Usually the only solution is to have the wisdom teeth extracted.  Your dentist can do X-rays to see what is happening and how bad the problem is. Generally, dentists recommend removing the wisdom teeth sooner rather than later especially since it can become more difficult once the roots of the teeth are more developed and if you are older in age.

Wisdom teeth extraction procedure

Dentists may perform oral surgery under local anestheticor general anesthetic. In the case for many patients, a local anesthetic is used in combination with a sedative such as " laughing gas" or valium.  How long it takes for you to recover from such dental extractions depends on many factors including whether or not the teeth are impacted in the jaw. Sometimes it takes more cutting and work for dentists to fully remove the teeth, which may make healing time a bit longer.

People generally experience pain, swelling of the face and jaw, and bleeding after the procedure. Pain medicine can help in the short term while the person’s tissues heal up.

Dental procedures for misaligned teeth

Many people have teeth that are misaligned besides their wisdom teeth. This is commonly seen in children and is when the condition should first be treated. This is when dental braces should be considered as way to straighten the teeth. Consulting with an orthodontist is a good idea and braces are best fitted when a person is a child, since the jaw is still growing at this time. Many clinics can offer good, modern type braces including plastic braces that are not easily noticeable.  Having an overbite or underbite not only looks unattractive but it has a serious impact on the correct functioning of the teeth, and therefore misalignment of the teeth is something that needs to be treated as soon as possible.