Wisdom Teeth1

Wisdom Teeth Information.

The last teeth to develop and erupt into the jaws are called the third molars. Third molars usually
erupt in the late teen years, which coincides with passage into adulthood and is referred to by some
as the age of wisdom; hence “wisdom teeth”. Unfortunately, the wisdom teeth are now usually trying to
erupt into a jaw that is too small. The mouths of most modern humans can comfortably fit 28 teeth.
However, with all 4 wisdom teeth, room is needed for for 32.

Besides serving no useful function, impacted teeth will often cause damage because they cannot
be cleaned properly and can collect food debris, bacteria and plaque around them. This can
result in tooth decay, gum disease, infection and abscess of not only the wisdom teeth, but of
the molars next door and of the surrounding gum tissue. The molars in front of the wisdom teeth
are sometimes lost because of cavities and gum disease caused by the inability to clean the wisdom
teeth properly. Cyst formation and other destructive pathology are also seen around impacted
wisdom teeth.

What is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?
A tooth becomes impacted due to lack of space in the dental arch and its eruption path is therefore
impeded by gum, bone or another tooth. Lack of space occurs because our jaws have become
smaller through evolution and the size of our teeth has not decreased much.



What are the Indications for Wisdom tooth Removal?

The most common reasons for removing them are:

Saliva, bacteria and food particles can collect around an impacted wisdom tooth, causing it,
or the next tooth to decay. It is very difficult to remove such decay. Pain and infection will
usually follow.

Gum Infection (Pericoronitis)
When a wisdom tooth is partially erupted, food and bacteria collect under the gum causing a
local infection. This may result in bad breath, pain, swelling and trismus (inability to open
the mouth fully). The infection can spread to involve the ear, cheek and neck. Once the initial
episode occurs, each subsequent attack becomes more frequent and more severe.

Pressure Pain
Pain may also come from the pressure of the erupting wisdom tooth against other teeth. In some
cases this pressure may cause the erosion of these teeth.


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