Wisdom teeth – the third and final set of molars in the rear of your mouth – are one of the least predictable teeth. Unlike other teeth, it’s not uncommon for wisdom teeth to be absent. Even more unusual, while some people have all four wisdom teeth, other people have only one, two, or three – and there seems to be no reliable predictor to determine how many wisdom teeth any given patient has prior to being X-rayed by a dentist.
For many people, the presence or absence of wisdom teeth is irrelevant – you can certainly live a full life with or without wisdom teeth – unless they’re present and problematic.
In many cases, wisdom teeth crowd other molars, grown in misaligned, or only partially erupt from the gum. Crowding can cause pain, tenderness, and further alignment issues with other teeth. In extreme cases, the wisdom teeth can grow in horizontally. In other cases, they can remain impacted – partially erupted through the gum, leaving the gum tissue broken. This condition allows bacteria to enter the gum tissue, surrounding the tooth where it can not be brushed or flossed, and can lead to significant decay of the tooth itself, as well as periodontal disease as the infection spreads to the surrounding gum tissue.
For these reasons, it’s common for many patients to first learn about their wisdom teeth when their dentist recommends they be removed. While not all wisdom teeth need to be removed, their potential for problems makes them likely candidates for extraction in many patients. The difficulty of extraction depends on many factors, such as number of wisdom teeth, their general alignment, and whether or not they’re compacting other teeth. If the wisdom teeth are fully erupted and visible, extraction may be simple; if the wisdom teeth are underneath the gums, the dentist or oral surgeon will need to cut into the gum to get to the teeth, which tends to be more invasive. In many cases, dentists will recommend removal of multiple wisdom teeth in one procedure, allowing for a single sedation and a single recovery period, so the patient does not need to repeat the healing process multiple times.
If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort near the back of your mouth, or if you’ve been told you have wisdom teeth that may be problematic, speak to your dentist about the various options available to you. Extraction may not be necessary, but it’s also possible that extraction could be a simple way to relieve pain and pressure caused by wisdom teeth.
To find out more about your wisdom teeth contact Dr. Larry Lieberman and make an appointment 727-785-8017 or visit our website at www.dentist-lieberman.com.
Accepting patients from Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, Clearwater, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs and all surrounding areas.