The third molars, otherwise known as wisdom teeth, are usually the last teeth to erupt. Often there is little space at the rear of the jaws so there may not be enough space for them to fit into the mouth correctly. If there is not enough space available the tooth will become wedged in or impacted.
Some impacted wisdom teeth will remain hidden and buried under the gum or bone and not cause any problems. Other wisdom teeth that try to push through may cause several problems;
- Infection - When the tooth has only partially cut through the gum, food, plaque and bacteria can enter through the opening of the gum, or flap of skin around the tooth and cause infection. It is very difficult to keep this area clean.
- Decay - Because partially-erupted wisdom teeth are very difficult to keep access and keep clean, cavities will often form, either in the wisdom tooth itself or the adjacent tooth.
- Crowding - A wisdom tooth may put pressure on the other teeth forcing them out of their correct alignment.
- Cyst Formation - When a wisdom tooth is impacted, the sac that surrounds the tooth can fill with fluid and form a cyst. This cyst may cause damage to the tooth, jawbone, nerves or adjacent teeth.
- Food trap - Due to the position of the wisdom tooth, food may become trapped between the wisdom tooth and the tooth next to it. This can cause decay, or an area of localized gum disease if left untreated.
- Pain - Pressure from the toot erupting, or pushing on the tooth next to it may cause pain. Also other factors such as cysts, infection and decay can also cause pain associated with the wisdom tooth.
Removal of Wisdom Teeth
The dentist may recommend early removal of one or more of your wisdom teeth to prevent any complications, future problems, or to commence orthodontic treatment. Otherwise the teeth will need to be removed when there is an existing problem such as infection.
Extraction of wisdom teeth may be easy and simple, or a surgical procedure depending on the severity of the case and position the tooth.
Surgical extractions mean that an incision will be made to open the gum to allow extraction. A small portion of the bone holding the tooth may need to be removed. The tooth may have to be divided into segments so it can be removed safely and easily. Sometimes the incision made will need to be closed with stitches, the stitches may be dissolvable and dissolve within a few days, or they may be silk which need to be removed by the dentist after 7-10 days.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.