Dr. Michael Handler

Common Wisdom Teeth Problems - and the Solutions

By Dr. Michael Handler

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the last of your permanent or adult teeth to come into your mouth. Most people get four wisdom teeth at the back of their mouths, which include two teeth on the top row and two on the bottom. They’re essentially the remnants of third molars, which our human ancestors needed to grind up plant tissue before digesting it. Since we basically don’t need third molars in modern times, they no longer behave the way they did before, which is the reason why wisdom teeth cause so many problems.

Common Wisdom Teeth Problems

The main problem with wisdom teeth is that before they erupt into the mouth they often become impacted in your gum tissue. This causes a range of problems, including:

  • Damaging your other teeth. When a wisdom tooth presses against the molar next to it, it can cause the tooth enamel to become damaged. Wisdom teeth that erupt fully can increase the risk of crowding in the mouth. The pressure can loosen other teeth, causing a risk of gum infection in that part of the mouth, or turn them crooked so you need orthodontic treatment to fix the problem.
  • Development of cysts. Wisdom teeth develop in small sacs in the jawbone. If the sacs fill up with fluid, it can cause a cyst that damages the patient’s jawbone, teeth and nerves. It’s also possible for a benign tumor to develop, which requires the removal of tissue and bone.
  • Causing tooth decay. Wisdom teeth often take so long to erupt that parts of the teeth remain partially impacted for months or years. This increases the risk of tooth decay than in other, fully-erupted teeth, because bacteria from food particles get trapped easily between the gum and the partially-erupted tooth enamel.
  • Increased gum disease risk. Periodontal disease develops when your gums become inflamed. Plaque in the mouth is one of the main reasons for this, and the challenge of cleaning partially-erupted, impacted wisdom teeth increases the risk of an inflammatory condition called pericoronitis in the region.

It’s important to keep an eye on your wisdom teeth once they start to erupt, so you can get medical attention if you see any of these symptoms. Discuss your situation with your dentist, to see what s/he recommends. Some dentists believe in removing wisdom teeth to prevent future problems, even if they aren’t causing concern at present. Others prefer to take a more conservative approach and just monitor them for now.

Treatment for Wisdom Teeth Issues

If your wisdom teeth do give you problems, your dentist will most likely recommend removing them surgically before they cause too much trouble. Having your wisdom teeth out is almost always done under dental sedation, and you can expect some minor discomfort afterwards for a few days. If the wisdom teeth are impacted, the dental surgeon needs to make an incision in the gum tissue to remove them. The wound is closed with stitches, and any cysts or tumors are removed during the same procedure or a later appointment. If you have developed an infection your dentist might prescribe antibiotics both before and/or after the surgery to treat it.

For more information on wisdom teeth, the problems you might experience, and how to treat them, please call our dentists in Scarborough at 416-267-4661 to schedule an appointment, or click here to book online.

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