Why are they called wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth (3rd molars) are the last teeth to come out in the mouth, they usually erupt around 16-18 years of age, but sometimes later. When wisdom teeth cannot completely erupt, they are called impacted wisdom teeth. Statistically, 90% of the population would have at least one impacted wisdom tooth of various degrees. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to different kinds of complications, therefore dentists would often suggest a consultation to determine whether the wisdom teeth would need to be removed. Research has shown that impacted wisdom teeth should best be removed around the age of 18-24, during which the recovery is fastest.
Wisdom teeth are located at the very back of the mouth. Sometimes they come out in a different direction or they only partially erupt (breaking through gum). They are often difficult to clean, leading to problems such as dental caries, gum inflammation and infection. An oral surgeon would often suggest an early consultation to determine if it is necessary to have the wisdom teeth removed. Sometimes if they have erupted in the right position and are easy to keep clean, or if they are completely embedded within the bone and does not affect the health of the other teeth. If this is the case, then only regular monitoring is necessary.
What are the signs and symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth? What if it is left untreated and not removed?
Hurting and pain of various degrees to the jaws, inflammation and swelling in the gum around the wisdom teeth, bleeding, pus discharge, etc., are all signs and symptoms of infected wisdom teeth. Some patients try to wait until the symptoms subside by themselves, but once symptoms occur and if no treatment is done, infection of the wisdom teeth may lead to severe complications that may require a trip to the ER.
Many impacted wisdom teeth are asymptomatic, but that does not mean that the problem is not there. For most patients, the removal of impacted wisdom teeth is a matter of “when,” and not “if.” If you have questions regarding the extraction of wisdom teeth, such as how they are removed, how to take care of the wound, how long (if any) the swellings last after removal, duration of recovery, whether if a collagen plug is necessary to aid in the wound healing, what to eat, how to prevent dry socket, the fees of wisdom teeth removal, etc., we suggest that you make an appointment with an oral surgeon to discuss in detail regarding all of these matters. As we have mentioned before, it is always best to have your wisdom teeth treated earlier, rather than later.
Please consult our dentists for more details.