What you need to know about your wisdom teeth

Your wisdom teeth, otherwise known as your third molars, are located at the most posterior portion of your mouth. They are the last to come through and usually start to show between ages 17 and 25. Out of the 32 teeth you have, 4 of them are your wisdom teeth. Normally, wisdom teeth pose no problem as long as they come through properly.

Problems regarding wisdom teeth arise when they become impacted. Some people may suffer from the case of impacted wisdom teeth because they have a small jaw. Their small jaw cannot accommodate the growth of all 36 teeth thus resulting to the impaction of the last teeth to come through. Impacted wisdom teeth may grow in angle, where a part of the tooth is seen in the surface of the gums while the other part is still covered. Since these grow at an angle to the adjacent teeth, bacteria and other food debris can be trapped in between. If this happens, it will be very hard to clean and this may lead to tooth decay and gum diseases. An impacted tooth may also cause pressure to the second molar that can lead to the overcrowding of the other teeth.

Your dentist will advise extraction of your wisdom teeth especially if they are impacted, to prevent future complications. If needed he/she will do an x-ray to see the impacted wisdom teeth and how far the tooth is under the gums. Before the extraction, the dentist will explain to you what is done and what to expect during the procedure. It starts with numbing the area where the wisdom tooth is located. This is usually done with the help of local anesthesia, to ensure that you will be comfortable during the extraction. If the tooth is impacted, a small cut is made and the covering soft tissues are removed thus exposing the crown. The tooth can be extracted as a whole or broken into large pieces if the former is not possible. If the tooth is not impacted, it can be extracted like other normal teeth. You may need stitches to close the area where the tooth was removed.

After the procedure, it is very important that you follow the after care instructions your dentist will teach you. Pain and swelling may be felt on the part where the tooth was removed, that is why it is important to take the medications that you are prescribed with. Report to your dentist or go to your nearest dental emergency clinic if you experience excessive bleeding or bleeding that has not stopped for 24 hours, difficulty of opening your jaw, numbness in your mouth after the anesthesia wears off, and slow healing gums.

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