|Impacted Wisdom Tooth|
WISDOM TEETH"Wisdom teeth" can be an anomaly in its own right. Some people have them and those teeth are just fine. Others have to put up with the occasional discomfort. And still others have to deal with persistent throbbing pain. So how does one know if wisdom teeth need to be extracted?
WHERE ARE MY WISDOM TEETH?Wisdom teeth are typically the very last molars in the mouth. Also called third molars, they are usually the most posterior teeth in each quadrant (upper right, lower right, upper left, lower left). Most adults have four wisdom teeth, one in each quadrant. In very rare cases, some adults have develop a "fourth molar" which is usually nonfunctional, atypical in shape, and may be located deep beneath the jaw bone.
WHEN DOES MY WISDOM TEETH NEED TO BE REMOVED?Some common signs and symptoms that wisdom teeth need an extraction include:
- Persistent throbbing and aching pressure adjacent to the wisdom teeth that is not going away. This may be due to insufficient space for the wisdom tooth to fully erupt. May be also known as hard tissue impaction, and feel like a toothache, and as such may require emergency dentistry.
- Swollen and bleeding gums directly on top of the wisdom tooth. This is also known as soft tissue impaction and pericorinitis.
- Wisdom tooth causing tooth decay and cavity to the tooth next to the wisdom teeth. In some cases the wisdom tooth is erupting at an angle (mesial impaction) causing decay and/or external resorption of the adjacent tooth. After the wisdom tooth is extracted, the affected tooth may need a filling or root canal and porcelain crown, or even an extraction, depending on the size of the cavity.
- When the wisdom tooth is so far back in the jaw it is hard to keep the area clean, and the tooth has a large cavity that is difficult to restore.
- If the wisdom tooth is difficult to keep clean, there is bone loss that causes the tooth to have periodontal involvement.
WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF THE WISDOM TOOTH?Research suggests that humans in the past had larger jaws to accommodate wisdom teeth, and it is thought that the wisdom teeth were used to help with chewing of foliage and plants due to a predominantly plant based diet. As humans evolved and diets changed that included meat, the jaw decreased in size and wisdom teeth no longer serve its once thought to be designed function for foliage chewing. The result is wisdom may become impacted, overgrown, and thus need to be either restored or surgically extracted.
If you have any questions on wisdom teeth extractions, be sure to consult your family dentist or oral surgeon.
From your gentle family dentist in Bellevue,
Dr. Peter Chien